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The problem with “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.”

Posted in the following categories: Decision Making, Life Lessons

That popular saying, “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no,” sounds like a no-brainer.

Saying no to the “meh” saves you time and energy for the things that really light your fire.

But here’s my confession: Aside from the slam-dunk decision to marry my wife, I’ve rarely felt that unshakeable “hell yes” feeling about . . . well, anything.

Every major move, every leap into the unknown, came with its fair share of sweaty palms and second-guessing.

Take, for example, my decision to leave my tenured professor position to dive headfirst into the unpredictable waters of authorship and speaking. That was more of a “Hell, what am I doing?” than a “Hell yes.” It ended up being one of the best decisions of my life.

Or consider the mental merry-go-round involved in writing my books:

“What if this flops?”
“Is this the right title and the right angle?”
“Maybe I should just scrap this whole thing and start over.”
(Just a few snippets of the inner dialogue of uncertainty.)

In the most important moments of my life, I didn’t feel an unwavering “hell yes.” I felt anxious about the path ahead. I didn’t feel good enough. I didn’t feel ready enough. I felt heavy—intimidated by a load that I was sure I couldn’t carry. If I’d waited for a “hell yes” before making any major moves, I’d be dragging myself into the same predictable tomorrow by reliving yesterday.

Here’s the thing: Discomfort almost always precedes expansion. Before you step outside your comfort zone, you will hear whispers of doubts and fears from within, making you uncomfortable about the path ahead.

Discomfort has two flavors. There’s the “wrong direction” kind of discomfort that whispers caution. It tells you that what you’re contemplating isn’t right for you. So, yes, turn down that job offer that makes your stomach churn or that relationship that you know, deep down, is misaligned.

But then there’s the second kind of discomfort—the kind that signals growth. It’s the nervous flutter before you step onto a stage, the unease of pitching a wild idea, or the heart-pounding energy of starting a new venture.

This brand of discomfort isn’t a red flag. Rather, it’s a green light signaling that you’re on the verge of something extraordinary. It signifies a metamorphosis, not a misstep. It’s your psyche’s way of saying, “Hey, we’re about to stretch ourselves here, and it’s going to be a bit uncomfortable, but let’s do it anyway.”

It’s in the embrace of this second kind of discomfort—the willingness to say “yes” even when the chorus of certainty is absent—that the magic happens. If we reserve our commitment exclusively for the “hell yes” moments, we’ll confine ourselves to the comfort of the known, mistaking familiarity for fulfillment.

In my own journey, I discovered that growth doesn’t reside in the clarity of easy, “hell yes” choices. Rather, it lies in the courage to pursue the paths that initially terrified me, armed with nothing but a tentative “yes” and a willingness to trust myself and my ability to evolve.

So, it’s time to reframe the narrative.

If it’s not a hell yes, it might still be a yes.

Because the most transformative chapters of our lives often begin with a tentative whisper, not a confident roar.

P.S. Imagine navigating the discomfort of growth with a dedicated group that’s got your back, offering insights, encouragement, and constructive challenge on the way to your most ambitious goals.

That’s what my wife Kathy’s Purpose and Profit Mastermind is all about. The mastermind is limited to 6 high-caliber leaders who are creating a purpose-driven path in their industry. It’s a place to be vulnerable, to learn, and to grow together, with the support of a personal powerhouse board of advisors.

The 6-month virtual program will kick off in April and run through September 2024. The application window will close at 5 pm Pacific on March 8 (i.e., 8 days from now). The earlier you apply, the better your chance of getting in.

Take 3 minutes and apply here.

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