Anyone who has known me longer than about 12 seconds will tell you I am a people pleaser.
At the office and in my personal life, I have a need to be liked. It’s baked in to my DNA.
It was front and center on my performance reviews at work, back when I had bosses:
- Positive attitude
- Asks lots of questions
- A great listener
- Makes sure teammates are happy and productive
- Always looking for a way to pitch in
Always saying YES.
“Yes Men” get a bad rap. They’re toadies, sycophants, boot lickers, right? All of a sudden this doesn’t sound so good. Maybe this isn’t an identity I should embrace.
Then again, the opposite is no better:
Sadly, I have had to be that guy too in my career, and it hurt my heart every day.
I guess I don’t see being a Yes Man as a negative. I see it as being eager to try new things. I see it as having a desire to engage, to collaborate, to meet you where you are. I see it as willingness to help. And I see it as a tool of servant leadership.
If you come to me with a question, looking for advice, looking for a favor, I am going to lead with Yes. Yes gives us options, and possibilities, and opportunities.
As a freshly-minted entrepreneur, however, this presents me with a challenge. I am no longer in a position where I can say Yes to everything. (Maybe I never was before and I just didn’t know.) But now I have to be strategic about Yes. I have to be accountable to my clients, my partner, and myself for every hour of my time. So I have to learn when and where and how and why to say … what’s that word again?
It’s just a word. Nothing to be afraid of.
“Why” is just a word too, one of my favorites. Emma and I started this company because we wanted to make a difference, and to support others doing the same. If I hope to succeed, I have to focus on our “Why.” And focusing means saying No to distractions, temptations, and trivia.
And then there’s that other favorite word: “balance.” Owning a business can eat up your life, and saying Yes to everything sounds like a surefire way to make that happen. Sometimes saying No might be my best defense of the healthy balance I need to do my best work, and live up to the accountability that I signed up for.
So focus and balance clear up space for Yes. Focus and balance gives me options, and possibilities, and opportunities – just like Yes does. But focus and balance come from limits, and enforcing limits means learning about No.
I am up to that challenge, and in fact I am meeting it head on. Dare I say that I am saying Yes to learning about No.
The trick is not allowing No to get in the way of the many incredible opportunities I will have to put my positive qualities to work as a small business owner. Opportunities to help, to serve, to collaborate. To say Yes.
To be my kind of Yes Man.
So bring ‘em on.