“No” is such a short, simple word but it can be the cause of so much stress and anxiety. Between the time of our birth until we are young adults, we probably heard the word “no” hundreds of thousands of times. In a way, we are trained and conditioned to want to avoid hearing the word “no”. But if we are conditioned to avoid wanting to hear “no”, we are limiting our potential. When we subconsciously take action, or don’t take action, because we want to avoid getting a “no” we are limiting our opportunities. That can lead to a decrease in our efforts to strive to reach our fullest potential, all because we do not want to hear the word “no”.

Feeling rejected. Here is a great example of how avoiding “no” can lead to missed opportunities. For several years I have been offering mastermind groups. I have a long list of friends and acquaintances whom I invite to participate in my groups. Each time I get ready to send out my invitations, I anticipate the response I will get from each person on my list. Some respond by saying “thanks, but I can’t join this time”, or some will ask for more information, others will sign up, and many will not reply at all. One time a person responded with a one-word reply: “No”. Ouch! That “no” left me feeling rejected; but I needed to change my perspective. The person responded. I should have been glad to have even received a response!

Made up stories. There was one person on my list I had been inviting for three years to join one of my groups. In three years she had never once replied in any way; she never had shown any interest at all. As I started sending out invitations for the next round, I hesitated when I got to her name. I started second guessing myself: “I’m probably bothering her by sending this invitation.” I realized I was making up stories in my head about what she may think of me. So much of what we worry about, especially when we worry about what others think of us, is a waste of time. When our actions come from a positive purpose, with good intentions, and an effort to be helpful, there is no reason to worry about what others think of us.

Pushing through the fear. This gal on my list is an accomplished business owner, a successful entrepreneur. I could learn a lot from her and felt the other people in the group would enjoy getting to know her and learning from her as well. So, though I hesitated, I sent her the invitation anyway. And guess what? I received a reply the next day: she signed up! She was a great participant in the group. If I had listened to all of those made-up stories in my head, if I had taken her silent “no” and interpreted it as “never”, I would have missed out on having her in my group, all of the other people in the group would have missed out from learning from her, and she would have missed out on the benefits she received by being a part of the group. Many people benefitted because I chose to push through my fear of getting yet another “no”.

Yes, No, and Never. When we go about our personal and professional lives there are countless times we may hear the word “no”. It may be when you are helping your child with a fund raising activity, or looking for volunteers to help with a project, or you are a professional salesperson, or you are looking for investors to help you with your start-up. Personally or professionally there are always going to be lots of opportunities to hear “yes” and there will also be many times when we will hear “no”. When we hear “no” it can feel like a door has been slammed in our face, but don’t you be the one who locks that door.  “No” does not necessarily mean “never”. Don’t make the mistake of interpreting someone’s “no” to mean “never”. “No” often simply means “not now”.

There is a great quote that I read every day that motivates me to remember to keep pushing forward and keep striving:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common
than unsuccessful men with talent.

Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan ‘Press on!’ has solved and always will solve
the problems of the human race.”

~ Calvin Coolidge

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