How often do you appreciate/embrace hearing the word no? I don’t!
It almost feels like when you ask for something and hear the word ‘no’ that you should have known better than to ask for the thing in the first place. However, today I had an “aha” moment of clarity that helped me understand the power of ‘no’ and how it can benefit you; it’s a matter of what you do with the ‘no’ that makes all the difference.
Times that I’ve been told ‘no’ that I didn’t appreciate and couldn’t see the immediate reward.
1. When I really wanted to purchase something but knew there wasn’t budget for it and was told no.
2. When I wanted to participate in the starting line up for a team sport but knew I wasn’t good enough to and was told no.
3. When I wanted to be invited to attend an outing with certain people but knew I wasn’t amongst their closest friends and was told no.
4. When I wanted an extra serving of meat or bread but knew the consequences wouldn’t be acceptable and my body told me no.
5. When I wanted that work promotion but was told no.
Here’s how I see these situations now.
1. Not purchasing the thing(s) allowed for money to be left for better experiences or memories that I appreciate much more than things.
2. Not being a starter pushed me to work harder to become better at basketball so that I could eventually be able to coach others on something they weren’t initially qualified to do but became proficient with.
3. Not being invited with people who didn’t want to spend time with me allowed me to focus on the friendships that I hold dear more.
4. Listening to my body tell has helped me stay healthy and energetic and experience few episodes of sickness.
5. Not getting that promotion led me to guiltlessly quitting my job after shortly finding out I was pregnant and wanting to be a stay at home mother.
Even to this day, I have a choice to make when I hear the word ‘no’. Sometimes I through a two year old tantrum inside my head, sometimes I cry, sometimes I feel angry/entitled, sometimes I walk away with my head down and tail between my legs, and more times than the others I have taught myself to work harder to prove that a ‘yes’ should be the answer, or find the ‘yes’ answer in a different situation.
The attitude that we portray in life towards being told ‘no’ is a direct reflection of our innate beliefs of our own capabilities. How bad do we want it? What are we willing to do to prove we’re worthy of it? What will we gain from working harder, even if the answer remains ‘no’?
My husband is a great example to me of how a positive attitude is beneficial when being told ‘no’. He has interviewed for countless positions, some of which he knew he wouldn’t/shouldn’t get and some that he thought they were going to offer shortly after the interview. He has remained positive and hopeful to keep trying. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt to hear the word ‘no’, because an internal beating often takes place, even if for a small moment, but it means you hold your head high and keep pressing forward.
A movie I went and saw with my kids the other day, “The Art of Racing in the Rain” was a fantastic representation of facing life’s challenges and setbacks (no’s) with more drive and ambition to not give up. Driving in the rain often produces fear of skidding out or crashing when not prepared. Watching the clouds and knowing that the rain is coming and preparing appropriately allows you to keep pressing forward without slowing. I see this similar to being told 'no'. Sometimes we know it's going to be said, so we can prepare by working harder to turn the 'no' into a yes, or "no not this' but try 'this'.
If ‘no’ is the answer and it shouldn’t be, then keep trying to prove why it should be ‘yes’. If the answer is ‘no’ and it should remain a ‘no’, that means work harder in a different direction. The point is, you can’t give up when you hear the word ‘no’. You go to work and figure out what to do next.
“Albert Einstein didn’t fail creating the lightbulb 1000 times; he simply learn 1000 ways not to do it.” (HA!!! It was Thomas Edison, JK)
If we’re in a constant state of learning and growth, then any ‘no’ provides an opportunity to learn more. The times that I allowed the internal beating to take over my actions, it became a downward spiral of unproductive behavior. The pity party takes over and I spend time wallowing in comparison that someone else was told ‘yes’ in the same situation that I shouldn’t have been told ‘no’.
This doesn’t have to be the fate of being told ‘no’. In fact, we can come out stronger as a result of being knocked down, just a little. We can own the hurt, anger, or entitled feelings for a moment and then propel ourselves into more productive thoughts, behaviors and actions. We simply can't wait for all the 'yeses' to make progress in our lives. We MUST create the progress by using 'no' to our benefit.