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Reframing Yes


Yes is a small word with big implications, especially when it comes to what we commit to and how we show up. How often do we find ourselves saying "yes" with half-heartedness, obligation, regret, frustration, or worse, resentment and animosity? The yes to be at an event you hadn't planned to attend. Committing to bringing something to a gathering you had only intended to pop by. Hosting guests after the busiest work week of the year. Saying you will meet for coffee when your introvert self just needs some time. Agreeing to present at a meeting or organization because you might disappoint someone if you don't. Or saying yes because you just couldn't figure out how to utter two letters... N.O.

These yeses aren't just in our personal life, but also in organizational life as well. It's not uncommon to see organizations drifting away from what they intended to do, trying to be everything to everyone and move aimlessly away from what they do best. Too many yeses without intentional moments of pause can quickly leave a ship without an anchor. Or worse, the anchor becomes a charismatic personality rather than strategic plans and processes.

It's time to reframe yes. Reframing is the process of changing how we see something and choosing to give it different meaning. What if we committed to every yes being a wholehearted, intentional commitment to what is most important?

In his book The Coaching Habit, author Michael Bungay Stanier writes, "A yes is nothing without the no that gives it form." He goes on to describe two types of no. The first is the "no of omission" which "applies to all of the options that are automatically eliminated by your saying yes." When you commit to something, it means that you aren't available to commit to something else for whatever time, energy, preparation, emotion, money, or anything else that "yes" requires of you. You, my friend, are a limited resource, and also not a multitasking octopus, so once we've said yes to something, we have limited our capacity to say yes to something else that would require those same things of us. The second no, Stanier writes, is a "no of commission," or what you now need to say, do, and follow through on to make that yes happen.

Author Lysa Terkeurst says it best:

Our decisions aren't just isolated choices. Our decisions point our lives in the directions they are about to head. Show me a decision and I'll show you a direction.

How do people and organizations reframe yes and ultimately commit to and engage in their best yeses? Strategically. Below are some questions to ask as individuals and organizations to lean into your best yes.

Individual Questions:

* What is the immediate feeling or reaction I experience to this request?

* If I say yes to this, what might I have to say no to?

* How would saying no allow me to say yes to something I truly want, need, etc?

* How does this yes align with the most important values I hold?

* If I can't commit to the entirety of this ask, but I truly want to, is there a part of it that I could do?

* When I consider the people I hold most sacred in my life, how will this decision impact them?

Organizational Questions:

* How does this yes fit with our organizational mission, values and strategic plan?

* If this request doesn't clearly fit with our mission and plan, what information do we consistently evaluate these types of requests by?

* If we commit to this ask, what does that require of us in organizational resources (time, processes, money, people, etc) in the short-term? Long-term?

* What will we say about this decision five years from now?

Every decision we make leads us in a direction. With deliberate questions, we have the opportunity to reframe every yes to one of full, energetic commitments with intentional direction.

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