We’ve all been there at some point in life, when someone from somewhere has approached you and asked “Can you just…”
And in that moment, we have a decision to make, but the decision we are making is far more complex than you may have first thought!
Firstly, they have approached YOU because they either believe or consider that you might be able to? We simply don’t approach people we KNOW can’t. So the fact they have approached deems they believe we might be able to. And, because we don’t ever want to let anyone down, the triggered emotional response would be “Yes”.
Secondly, this has now triggered a series of internal questions:
- Can I do it? (Am I physically / mentally capable of doing this?)
- Have they seen me do this before? (Is this something I’ve done, or am known for having done before?)
- Have they heard that I can do it? (Do others believe I can do it? and if so, why do they think this?)
- Could I do it to the level of satisfaction they are expecting? (Am I able to do it to the level required to meet their requirements?)
- Is this WHAT I do? Or something aside WHAT I do? (An painter and decorator that is being asked to help bump start a car for example)
And many others besides.
However, there is then the question:
SHOULD I do it?
Just because you CAN, doesn’t automatically determine you SHOULD.
Often when someone is first setting up in business, they are keen to demonstrate their willingness to help others. Therefore, when someone approaches them and asks “Can you…” the overwhelming preference is to say YES.
Indeed in Richard Branson’s book “Screw it, let’s do it” he is quoted as having said:
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
And, in this sense, there is much to be said about having the confidence to step out and be bold. To approach life and all it has to share with us, by saying YES more frequently than saying No.
However, there is also the counter argument, to this, about remaining genuine, authentic, ethical, and transparent. Just because they have asked YOU, doesn’t always mean it should be YOU that does the work!
The importance of saying No
Let’s go back to the person I mentioned early, recently having set up their new business. They are keen to generate an income and earn a living. To them, the enquiry of “Can you…” is a potential paycheque and so the tendency is to follow Branson’s example and quickly say Yes.
Very quickly you will become known for the person that says yes, and no doubt approached by several others also asking “Can you?…” However, we were often also taught as a young child:
“Jack of all trades, master of none”
By being so quick to accept – ANYTHING, you have automatically created a glass ceiling it becomes harder and harder to smash through throughout your career, as you become busier and busier helping others to achieve what THEY want to achieve. You see, you have to have a PLAN. You have to know what YOUR success looks like (in exceptional detail) and decide as to what actions YOU are going to take to make THIS a reality.
We can ALL be at risk of responding to an SOS. (Shiny Object Syndrome) the desire to be liked and wanted by others, and so responding to THEIR requirements even if to the detriment to OUR wants and aspirations.
It is only when we have a plan to follow, that we can determine if saying YES, is likely to also enable us to achieve something within our own growth and development towards our goals. The TRUE meaning of a Win-Win.
I’ve previously spent much time discussing how a Win-Win is often misinterpreted, with people intentionally doing things for others with an expectation this means they ‘owe’ them something, which is NOT what the term was ever intended to mean. This energy created is destructive and leads to false hope and expectation. It is NOT something to be relied upon and can often be the cause of resentment and difficulties.
You see, whilst we may CALL it a WIN | WIN it’s actually a Loose | Loose!
I don’t want to go all ‘The Secret’ on you here, but we have to simply accept there is a magnetic impulse that simply prevents us from dropping off the planet as it orbits the sun! (It’s called GRAVITY) And just as gravity maintains the status quo of where the planets sit within the solar system, so do people gravitate towards or away from others. Only once we acknowledge this, can we begin to understand that if you enter into a situation having already formed the outcome you want to achieve (in this example its: I’ll do this BECAUSE you’ll then ‘owe’ me) you have actually repelled the magnetism of the validity of the intent, and thus not a genuine act.
Therefore, its key to remaining true, pure, honest, open, vulnerable. Rather than rubbing snake oil into our palms and looking for another disadvantaged we can ‘do a good deed’ for!
What has this got to do with speaking?
I hear you cry?
Well, I was once taught an exceptionally valuable lesson by my past speaker mentor Geoff Ramm. At the time he was giving his leaving address as National President of the Professional Speaking Association. The incumbent president was in the wings, and Geoff was offered the chance to ‘close’ his presidency with a ‘thank you’ speech to the conference.
Geoff has always been a very expressive and emotive speaker, and on this occasion was no exception. He reeled off the amount of enquiries that he had received, or event organisers who had spoken to him, or events he had seen, where he had spent time to consider WHO was the RIGHT speaker to recommend. and how he had gone out of his way, to connect event and speaker, sometimes facilitating the introduction, sometimes even convincing the event team to take his recommendation in order to ensure they got the RIGHT speaker for their event.
82 referrals Geoff had made for OTHER speakers to win work, speak at events, benefit from HIS intervention.
He then publicly thanked the 5 people who had ‘returned the favour’ and recommended him!
The whole conference fell silent, shocked, ashamed at their willingness to take, and lack of enthusiasm to give! It was a show stopping moment and one I will never forget. I’ve re-lived that moment so many times in my mind since he first left stage. Thinking of any, all the opportunities I may have had, and failed to pass on? You see, I get it. We are ALL so caught up in our own little world, that unless something is pointed out directly under our noses, we can so easily walk on by and forget!
So how DO you create a WIN | WIN?
By creating a WIN | WIN | WIN
Simply by knowing that doing the ‘RIGHT THING’ and doing it BECAUSE its the RIGHT THING. Without expectation, or strings, or conditions, but simply because its the RIGHT thing. And quietly knowing the the universe has got your back!
If there is one thing I want you to take from this it’s simply: DO THE RIGHT THING.
Know when to say No! (And if so, who might be the person to say YES)
Know when to say YES (and then under promise, and MASSIVELY over deliver!)