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I Was Told "No"

No Last week, I was told "no."

I didn't think my request was unreasonable.

Nor did it come as a surprise to the requested party, as the other person has known for the better part of a year what was on my mind, and that the question was on the table for that length of time.

There was really no argument about it, since the other party and have a strong friendship and lots of mutual respect for each other.

Was I disappointed?  Yes.

Was it permanent.  No.

Both he and I knew that he wasn't really telling me "no."  While it was the answer to the question on the table, that "no" was actually a much more empowering "yes" to pursue the same problem from a different angle.  As a matter of fact, his "no" was more of an invitation for me to find a slightly different "yes."

Sometimes we take "no" as a final answer.  When dealing with questions of legality, morality, or ethics, the "no as a final answer" is a pretty good thing.

But for everything else?  Well...

At a former client, we had a running joke of being told "no" up to five times before an idea took root.

"No" is actually the seed of the "Yes" plant.  If you plant a "no" and the soil is fertile enough and well watered, you can't help but grow a "Yes" eventually.  If the "no" is planted in the desolate soil of defeatism, then "no" stays just that, just like a seed shrivels and dies rather than producing a plant.  And all you get is a frustrated farmer.

My "no" seed is currently germinating quite nicely into a "yes" ... a future accomplishment in the making.

What about yours?


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Victoria Koster-Lenhardt

Great way to look at no!Thanks!

Erik Potter

Reminded me of the advice you gave me a few years back. The quality of my "yes's" is determined by the quantity of my "no's".


I always live by the mantra that you ask someone until they say no, and then you ask them again. Then sometimes you ask them once more a little later in a different way. Persistence pays off sometimes.

Eric Peterson

Awesome post Tim. It's a great reminder to many to practice persistence. Not necessarily persistence down the same path, but persistence to keep attacking the problem/issue/idea from various directions, until our "no's" become "yes".

From a selfish standpoint, this is JUST the post I needed to read today. Thank you.

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