When I started working for myself, I said yes to everything―every client, every project, every time I was asked to cut my rate. I was so afraid of not having enough work and not being able to pay my bills that I repeatedly sacrificed my own worth. But I also couldn’t forget this advice: “Always find a way to get to yes.”
There’s a lot of hullabaloo around the power of “Yes.” And saying yes can be very beneficial, especially when we’re in transition―between jobs, after ending a relationship, starting a business. These are times when it’s good to explore and experiment, as we shed one skin to make room for another, one that’s more aligned with who we are, who we’re becoming, who we want to be.
In my early entrepreneurial days, a whole lot of yes wasn’t a bad thing. After a while, though, always saying yes was no longer necessary, and I was at risk of becoming an entrepreneurial tart―giving it away without regard to my vision for the business, much less the value of what I had to offer. Eventually I understood that getting to yes is about negotiation, about creating a win-win.
So I started saying “No.” No to projects that aren’t a good fit. No to clients who don’t feel right. No to anyone who asks me to cut my rate. Recently, I shook my head no twice in one week. After all these years, there was still a flutter of panic. There was still disappointment. But there was also faith that something better would come along. Because when we eliminate options, we create focus. We close the wrong doors so the right one can open. And it always does―if we sit with the fear, believe in our worth, and flat-out refuse to accept anything less.
Nicole Christie is a writer and storyteller who splits her time between Seattle and Montreal. She is also the principal and creative director of NICO, Inc.―a one-woman firm specializing in fresh, honest, engaging employee and marketing communications for Fortune 500 corporations, leading-edge creative firms, and rapidly growing new technology companies. You can soak up her solopreneur wisdom at http://nicolechristie.com/.