Friday, October 7, 2016

You Can't Grow by Saying No

Personal growth comes from new experiences. If every day was the same as the one before life would get one-dimensional pretty quickly and you would become one-dimensional as well (boring!!). You have to experience new ideas, new tastes, new people, new music, new activities and new challenges in order to grow as a person. And isn’t that what life is all about after all - to grow into the best version of yourself as possible. The more you grow as a person the more you have to draw on, the more you have to share and the more you will be able to assist those around you. 

But here’s the thing. You can’t grow if you say no to new experiences or challenges when they come along (and they come along all the time!) How often do you say no? More times than you think. It’s just easier to stay in your comfort zone. But that comfort zone is holding you back. That comfort zone keeps you from fully developing into the awesome person you are. Sure it feels safer to say no but what are the real risks to saying yes. Are you afraid you’ll fail? Are you afraid you’ll be embarrassed? Are you afraid you won’t like it? Sure, any of those things might happen. But then again, they may not. That’s the paradox. You cannot know the outcome before you step forward. And the more you try to figure out the outcomes the more you’ll just play it safe and stay in your comfort zone.

Try this instead. The next time you are asked to do or try something and your gut reaction is no, stop and think about it. Why are you saying no? If it’s fear of the unknown or fear of failure I encourage you to be courageous and go ahead with a YES. Now I am not saying you say yes to everything no matter what. I am not asking you to be foolhardy. If you are asked to pick up a flaming log out of the campfire then obviously you’re going to say no (and if I am wrong about that you may want to seek psychiatric advice).  

But seriously, if there is not an obvious bodily threat why not try a yes. One at a time and see what happens. Some of the best experiences in my life have come from saying yes when I otherwise would have said no. Okay, so my knees were knocking sometimes (like right before giving a keynote address at a national sales conference) or I felt more than a bit uncomfortable (like going to party where I knew only a couple of the people attending). But in each of those instances, and many others, I ended up having a great time, meeting some interesting people and experiencing personal growth.

If the idea of saying yes seems overwhelming, try something small. The next time someone asks if you want to try a certain food or drink – try it. A small taste will not hurt you. If you don’t like it just thank the person for letting you try it but be honest and say you did not care for it. You grew as a person because you tried. You don’t have to like everything, that’s not the point. The point is to work on being open to whatever life has to offer and not being afraid to say yes.

Every new experience, every new book, every new person, every new idea that you come in contact with helps you grow into a more rounded person. You grow as an individual from contact with the ideas of others and the shared experiences with the world around you. You owe it to yourself and those who you know and love (now and in the future) to become the absolute best version of you possible. Saying YES helps make that happen.

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