Stop Saying No to Yourself So Others Can Say Yes

I had an eye-opening experience on a recent trip to California that gave me a fresh perspective on how easily we get in the way of getting what we want.

When you stop yourself from making that phone call, or going to that event, or reaching out to that specific contact, it usually has more to do with what you’re saying to yourself internally than what is happening around you externally.

I was sitting at the gate in Philadelphia when our gate agent made the announcement that the flight was full and they needed a few volunteers to give up their seats. Compensation included a $300 travel certificate and a guaranteed seat on the next available flight. She mentioned that those of us making connections (I was flying to San Francisco through Chicago to burn up some soon-to-expire frequent flyer miles) might even be able to get on non-stop flights on other carriers and she would be happy to check out the options for us.

For a second, I thought of getting out of my comfortable seat and volunteering, but then, other thoughts quickly replaced that one. Thoughts like…

“It’s too much work, and I might not get what I want anyway.” I had just gotten my iced coffee, found a good seat at the gate and was enjoying the first few bites of my Luna bar when the call for volunteers was made. Did I really want to gather everything up, roll over to the desk, stand in line and then be told, “We don’t need any more volunteers.”? Was it worth the trouble?

“What if I end up worse off?” My mind quickly drew a picture of me stuck in a middle seat on a cross-country flight, and I shuddered. Or what if I boarded late and all the overhead bins were full and I had to check my carry-on. Did I want to take the risk?

“Where I am is good enough.” In very short order, the negative thoughts swirling around in my head had me rationalizing that arriving in San Francisco on my original flight — close to midnight and with a stop over in Chicago — really wasn’t all that bad. Wasn’t it just easier to stay where I was?

“I have a frequent flyer ticket, they won’t want me.” This was probably the most dangerous thought of all. I was taking myself out of the running, justifying my inaction using completely made up criteria. How ridiculous was that?!?

That did it. I snapped out of my “complacency trance,” strode over to the desk and offered my seat. They weren’t sure they would need me, but took my information. Within 45 minutes I was on my way to a neighboring terminal to catch my new non-stop flight to San Francisco.

I couldn’t have had a better experience. I got a window seat in the second row, there was plenty of overhead space for my carry-on, we arrived a full hour early, AND I got frequent flyer miles for the trip even though it cost me nothing. I couldn’t believe that I had nearly talked myself out of taking action. And all it took was a few minutes.

Where do you stop yourself in your business or your life because of the stories you believe about how things work and the assumptions you make about other people?

Change that right now and make a commitment to yourself to do ONE THING this week that you’ve held yourself back from. When you stop saying “no” to yourself, you give more people around you opportunities to say “yes.”


© 2012, Liz Lynch International LLC

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