Like most normal humans I hate the word no. I truly identify with being a positive person. Always looking to grow, build, seek, strengthen, try. I crave the word “yes” than a Justin’s peanut butter cup. No is hard for word for me. It’s a shut door. It’s the end. It’s goodbye. It’s you’re not good enough.
Well, at least that’s how my first 23 year relationship with no has been. But, like the freaking annoying eternal optimist that I am, I’m starting to find the good in no. In fact, I’m starting to understand that no has had so much power over me, when really, I could be harnessing the power of no for myself. *Cue evil laugh*
Ok, you might be scratching your head at this point wondering what they heck I’m talking about. What good is there in the word no?
Allow me to share an example of not one, but TWO of the hardest “no’s” I’ve ever received (and yes they were remarkably similar.)
The Big N.O.
So the first “no” goes a little something like this: Picture high school senior Georgie. She thinks she’s hot shit. She got 5’s on her APs, she’s assistant editor of the paper, just won her local scholarship pageant, and she’s feelin’ pretty confident. So when the time comes to apply for the prestigious scholarship in her town, which includes a full ride to ANY college, she thinks she’s at least a shoe-in for the top 10 finalist spot. But lil ‘ol Georgie got nuthin. Zilch. Nada.
At the time I was absolutely crushed and pretty humiliated that I thought I would be a shoe-in. I spent far too many nights wondering what I should have done differently. Why I wasn’t good enough.
Fast forward 2 years, Georgie’s a sophomore in college. Low and behold, another opportunity comes up. This time it’s for another full-ride scholarship (well the final 2 years). This scholarship program seemed like an incredible opportunity and prestigious honor. Having been humbled before, she wasn’t quite so cocky, but when she got a letter that she was a finalist that little glimmer of hope sparked up again. After a series of interviews and applications the second letter finally came. But it was another no. Another crushing blow.
Why I needed to hear that no
Both these situations are some of the biggest “NO’s” I’ve ever received. However, it also turns out that because I didn’t get either full-ride, I had to work my way through college. These two “no’s” were the catalyst to the enormous hustle I had before, during and after school to remain completely debt free.
A large part of the drive I have now, is due to working since I was 14. I set a huge goal for myself, to never take out a loan, which meant I hat to work 3 jobs through school, 2 in the summer and scratch and scramble and hustle for any and every scholarship I could get.
So while it really, really and I mean really stung my ego and my spirit at the time, I’m so incredibly grateful I didn’t get either of those full-ride scholarships.
Fast forward to today, I’m still regularly afraid to ask for things or start something because I’m afraid to hear no. It’s not always conscious, it’s the quiet voice saying “you’re not good enough for that” “no one will believe in you” “do you really think you deserve that.”
But it turns out there is an antidote. It’s not easy but it’s really effective. It’s called “no therapy” (ps I just made that name up, it’s not an actual psychological kind of therapy, that I know if anyway). No therapy is when you just go out and go for it when you know the answer will likely be no. First you can be silly. Go out on the street and ask strangers to take a selfie with you. It’s totally harmless (in the day time). You’ll hear a lot of “no’s” but you might get some yes’s. At the end of the day you might come away with a handful of selfies and plenty of awkward moments. But they’ll be like little trophies.
Then, apply it to your big project. For bloggers out there, you’re probably afraid to pitch to your favorite brands because you don’t want to hear no. Congrats. You’re normal. But guess what? They probably won’t come to you. You gotta go for it. (I outline my pitching strategy HERE). I’ve heard a lot of “not right now” “we don’t have a budget” but I shrug it off and keep chugging. As a result because I’ve kept chugging I’ve also gotten some pretty fantastic yes’s.
And this isn’t just for sponsorships. Looking for a raise? Want to take your relationship to another level? Want to reach out to someone you really admire?
Do your research. Then go for it. Worst thing that can happen is they say no. But you’re cool with no by now.
Guess what? Over time you (and me, because I’m DEFINITELY still working on this) will realize that hearing no is 10,000x better than lingering in uncertainty. I literally hate that feeling more than anything.
That feeling will be so unbearable that you’ll become comfortable hearing no. Sure, some “no’s” will sting SO much harder than that stranger who won’t take a selfie, but you just might find that rather than the door slamming that “no” just opened up a whole new world for you.
- Have you ever had a “no” that taught you something?