Yeses and Nos

I was listening to a podcast by Iyanla Vanzant entitled You Matter. She sounds like a larger than life lady with a loud and clear message – You Matter.

Photo by Lisa Fotios

One of the things she was talking about was exercising our yes and no muscles.

  • Do we clearly know what we want to say yes and no to?
  • Do we always give our “correct” response?
  • Do we waver in light of the needs, wants and our perceptions of others?
  • Do we confidently use our yes and no muscles and stand strong in each answer?
  • Do we say yes but secretly want to say no?
  • Do we say no but harbour a desire to shout yes?

I’ve got better over many years, at being true to my yes and no responses – although I’m still figuring some out and don’t always make the best choice for me.

Some of my yeses and nos are easy and no brainers.

  • Yes to salted caramel ice cream and guacamole. No to celery and horseradish
  • Yes to the charity boxes of the Salvation Army and Help for Heroes. No to high street chuggers
  • Yes to skiing and no to ski diving
  • Yes to margaritas and no to smoking.

Some of my yes and no responses I’ve learnt to be comfortable with or grown into.

  • Yes to having a lie in when the mood takes me – without feeling guilty.
  • No to splitting the bill, when I’m not drinking.
  • Yes to working with individuals, teams and organisations where I feel I can help, their intent is clear and their values align pretty closely with mine
  • No to working with people and organisations that I feel I can’t help, am not a good fit for or they represent something I don’t believe in.

Why do our yes and no responses matter?

Because we matter. Who we are and what we stand for matters because it’s part of our identity and how we define ourselves. Without a level of clarity on what we will say yes to and what will constitute a no, we leave ourselves open to the whims, control or pressure of external things and people often resulting in regret or worse.

About 8 or 9 years ago, my financial situation was not great. I needed all the work and income I could get to keep the lights on.

I clearly remember the day an email dropped into my inbox.

Hi Bev, How are you? I think I know your answer but I wanted to give you the opportunity anyway. We’ve just won a large contract to deliver multiple leadership development programmes with a global tobacco company. Are you interested and available?

It was literally a Nano second after reading that note that I heard my inner voice say NO.

That no was clear, strong and unequivocal.
It didn’t mater that the type of work would have been a good fit.
It didn’t matter that I had availability in my diary.
It didn’t matter that I needed the money.

What mattered was what I believe. Smoking is bad and I will not contribute to an organisation whose purpose is to make cigarettes.

I know there are many products that cause harm in different ways and you may have a different perspective to me. For me anything to do with smoking is a no.

As I’m thinking about and writing my blogs each week, the process is helping me get clearer on more of my yeses and nos as well what is important to me and what isn’t.

Writing my blog is a yes.
Enjoying the process of writing my blog is a yes.
Being worried, concerned or attached to how each blog is received is a no.

Do I want you to enjoy reading the blogs? Yes
Do I hope you get insight, clarity or ah has? Yes
Do I anxiously wait for comments or check the numbers or who reads each blog? No
Am I committed to continue my initial 6 month experiment? Yes.

Asking simple questions on any matter of things can help us get clarity in the moment and over time on what matters to us and what doesn’t. What we should all know though is we all matter.

Each one of us matters.
Each one of us has a unique contribution to make in this world.
Each on of is a reflection of our yeses and nos.

What are your Yes answers?
What are your No answers?


  1. Micky McDonald
    14th May 2019

    I really like this Bev, thanks!
    I sell stuff, and I’m really good at it. There have been times when I too have really needed to close a sale to put food on the table for my family and have chosen not to do so based on my values and integrity.
    When I travelled through Europe with my family 2 years ago I was acutely aware of the lessons I wanted my 2 boys (11 and 14 at the time) to learn. When to say yes and no was one of those very important lessons, and, friends are more important than money, was another.
    I’m looking forward to your next blog!

  2. Beverley Hamilton
    15th May 2019

    thanks Micky. How we show up is the best tole model we can be for others – especially young people. It can feel hard to do what’s right but I know in my experience doing what is easy or is based on scarcity and need v truth is harder longer term.

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