Say Yes

We purchased a camper. This has been discussed and on our list for a while now. However, there are plenty of things on that list which represent a significant budgetary expenditure. It came down to either a new camper or remodel the bathroom, which has been on the list for about 20 years. We would certainly enjoy both, the bathroom on a daily basis, but we decided to say yes to the camper because it will be a big piece of our lives going forward.

The idea for this blog came from one of my oldest and dearest friends when we were catching up over a few beers. “Say yes” is a philosophy he adopted years ago based off advice he was given by a mentor of his. When I think of his idea of saying yes, he retired from the corporate world years ago and is now a sailboat captain. A song I have referenced before, Get a Boat by Rocket Club, reflects this attitude.

Get a Boat. Set it on the water and if it floats, ride that river to the sea

The whole wide world, gonna be waiting there to meet you

But they won’t if you don’t get a boat

This life’s a trip, much to do, much to learn, a one-way trip, there ain’t no ticket for return

With this blog front of mind, I recently read an article about a successful entrepreneur who grew her construction business from $0 to $20 million in 4 years. On her list of rules for success, at #5 is to say “yes” to as many opportunities as possible, even if they fall outside of our capabilities. When one is just starting, they must find a way to get it done.

Newton’s 1st Law states that an object at rest will stay at rest, and an object in motion will stay in motion at constant velocity, unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. Thinking about something too much can be that unbalanced force that prevents us from moving forward. If we want to do something, just simply start. The motion of doing it can carry us forward towards getting it done.

Let’s work on eliminating the ‘after’ – “I’m doing it after,” “I’ll think about it after.” We leave things for later as if ‘after’′ is ours to control. It isn’t. Because priorities change, health lapses, promises are forgotten and eventually life ends on earth. Waiting for later can cost us great moments and experiences. Stop thinking so much about what we’re going to do, and just do it.  Today is the day and the moment is now. Say yes. Get it done. Make it happen.

At my age, rarely does a month go by without learning of a college or high school teammate, friend, or close acquaintance passing away – often too early in life. Each time it happens it is a less-than-subtle reminder of my mortality. I really want there to be depth and breadth with my days. Life is not a dress rehearsal, so if given the chance, I am going to say yes.

Saying yes to something can be a first step. I have always been a fan of the quote Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Saying yes is a step to start that journey. I can remember the first ‘date’ I had with my wife, Vicki, in college. It was sort of giving the green light to feelings that I had for several months. I was quite sure as I walked back to my fraternity that evening that my life was never going to be the same.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King

I am not advocating a lack of responsibility and throwing care to the wind and doing whatever we want. We can’t overextend our reach. There is a level of prudence with saying yes. It needs to be within the context of the moment guided by wisdom. Saying yes to saving money at age 25 as opposed to spending extravagantly, enabled us to pay for our three daughter’s college educations. In fact, my friend that said yes to retiring at an early age was able to make that choice because he said yes to saving and investing from the first day of his career. A small yes today can lead to a bigger yes in the future.

Life’s brilliant chances are often disguised as an opportunity to step up at work, a surprise request from a friend, or any type of unfamiliar challenge. Anything that creates a spark of curiosity within us or generates some desire that has typically laid dormant, is often our intuition steering us to say yes. ‘Yes’ leads to more doors being open, while ‘no’ is often closing doors. If we don’t ask, the answer is always no and ‘no’ can be connected to regret. Life and luck favor the bold. Opportunities do not always arise again — or at least the same ones. “If I must give any of you advice it would be say yes. Say yes and create your own destiny.” — Maya Rudolph

The best way to predict the future is to create it ourselves. A great example is right after college while job interviewing, I was told by a recruiter that I needed to become a better speaker and more confident when speaking. I then said yes to every opportunity to speak in public.

All throughout the Bible, ordinary people just as flawed as we are, said yes to God without knowing what that would mean for their lives. Their saying yes included wisdom on what God was asking and reflection on what was His will. Noah built the ark, Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his only son, Moses stood toe to toe with Pharaoh, Rahab hid the Israelite spies, David fought Goliath, Mary bore God’s son, the disciples left everything behind and followed. In Luke 5:1-11, Simon Peter says in reply to Jesus’ request to cast his nets, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” Simon’s acceptance leads to a wonderous catch of fish.

Jesus is always there, patiently waiting for us to say yes. To move closer to Him, to walk farther with Him, to serve Him. We need to be all in and have that “say yes” attitude in every area of our life, big or small.

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