Don’t Just Say “No” to Opportunity

This is an area that I struggle with. Why? Because I’ve been conditioned to add more to my plate than I can handle. As I’ve learned to say “no”, I’ve also missed out on some things that would have benefited me. I didn’t prioritize well and now I’m paying the costs. How? By not allowing myself the experiences that would have behooved me in other areas in my career and education.

I’ll give you a prime example. Years ago, I was asked to take a leadership position within my church. I said “no”. I should have said yes. I’ve done it more than once. The reason? Change only happens when people speak up for change. We are seeing evidence of this with the Black Lives Matter Movement. You don’t have to agree with the riots but there is a strong message that needs to be heard and people are being forced to hear it. Being too nice doesn’t bring about change because people don’t take you seriously. Sometimes it takes a force of nature to get your point across.

I decided to start practicing what I preach. I joined the Council at my church and I am active in social media accounts. When I get complaints, I often want to walk away and say to others if they think they can do better, go for it. Then I recognize that I’m part of the problem. You see, when we start accepting that we aren’t perfect but are willing to let others help us, then we create solutions. It’s part of communicating, listening and we grow more from the process.

Many of you are so busy you don’t have time to squeeze in anything else. Does the question become how important is what you’re being offered to you? I’ve often found that if something was important to me, I’d find a way to do it. On the other hand, sometimes I’ve said no because I felt I couldn’t squeeze in anything else when in reality, I could have. It just wasn’t important enough to prioritize. Isn’t that the conundrum that many of us fall into? When it comes to our kids, we move heaven and earth but when it comes to things that are important to us, we often fail to take them on. We want someone else to take on the responsibility so that we can criticize what’s wrong with the varying projects. Somewhere along the line, we have to learn that it’s our responsibility to make changes for the better.

The last few jobs I’ve worked, I was hesitant to learn more. It was easier to let someone else take responsibility for the mistakes and better if I didn’t have to deal with the fallout. I was cheating myself out of opportunities to learn, grow, and master skills. I no longer make that mistake. I choose to learn how to do things myself. I guess in many ways I had become the victim of the “I don’t get paid enough to do this.” But how can any of us expect to earn more if we aren’t stretching ourselves?

I’m not saying say “yes” to everything. That would be irresponsible and way out of context. What I am saying is don’t be so quick to say “no” to something that means a lot to you. Believe it or not, you could make all the difference in the world with a cause you believe in. Voices and actions are needed in many different realms. Choose when to say “yes” and when to say “no”. There will be times in your lives where you will struggle with these decisions and you may have already or even be struggling with them now.

If you are among those who struggle with wanting to learn more, it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be nervous about trying new things. Never put yourself in a box. Lord knows there are enough people in this world who will do that for you. Every time I went to work a contract job, I got put at the bottom of the salary list even when I had a degree. Why? Because I didn’t know how to make myself stand out. The only way you will ever stand out is to put yourself out there. You may not always get what you want but you will learn as you go. This in turn will help prepare your confidence so that you can determine if your “no” should become a “yes”. We’re only on this earth for a short while. Make it count. Don’t just fade into the darkness without the skills you need for survival. You’ve got this. Believe in yourself and your priorities and you’ll be just fine.

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