The Yes List
Rather than focusing on what we say “no” or “not yet” to, focusing on the essential criteria of what we say “yes” to can aid decision-making and create space for great work. In this episode, Bill and Ralph offer suggestions and examples to help you develop your own essential list. Join us, and learn more about how this technique can enhance your leadership.
Bill Berthel: Welcome to the Get Emergent Podcast. Our podcasts are focused on individual team and organizational development. We focus on leadership topics and provide concepts, ideas, and pragmatic tips and practices for all leaders. I’m Bill Berthel.
Ralph Simone: And I’m Ralph Simone. And today, this episode we’re gonna be talking about the Yes list.
And I gotta tell you, bill, when I first saw that proposed title I was thinking of, I think it was a Jim Carey movie where he said yes to everything. Oh yeah, I love it. Yes, yes. So right off the bat, I gotta ask you, does the YES list mean that we say yes to everything that comes our way?
Bill Berthel: I think if we think back to that movie, the answer is no, right?
Cause I think, I think saying yes to everything can turn it into a situational comedy, however, Some of us may be living life like that. Some of us may have a real challenge with, you know, saying no or not yet, right? We, we’ve all heard that no is or can be a full sentence and that practicing saying no or not yet is really important, especially for leaders.
We can’t be all things to everyone. And I think, you know, sometimes we want to be, and that causes us maybe to say yes to some things We could say no or not yet to, we’re really not giving our full commitment if we’re saying yes to everything.
Ralph Simone: So it sounds like we wanna be focused on the more positive, but we have to be intentional and thoughtful about what we say yes to.
Bill Berthel: I think that’s exactly it. I think it’s being intentional that it’s the thing we really want to, need to, say yes to. So what if instead of focusing on what we’ll not do or what we’ll say no to, you know, we create the essential criteria for what we say yes to. So our yeses. Full. Full hell yeses.
Ralph Simone: I love it.
I love it. It seems like even in the law of intention, what we tend to focus on will manifest, right? We, we don’t wanna focus on what we don’t want, right? We wanna focus on what we want and that’s, yeah, absolutely. That’s the yes list. So what. What would we guide our listeners as far as criteria to use for their yes list?
I mean, what suggestions would we make?
Bill Berthel: So I have my own kind of hell yes. Criteria as I share this. I think it’s gonna be fairly intuitive. Uh, fairly simple. I think it’s harder to put in practice. We had a participant in our LeadFORWARD program in our last overnight retreat who was sharing some challenges in being able to, you know, say no to things and they wanted to be fully present.
And I think what advice shifted that participant to really start experimenting was instead of checking out or saying no, it’s about checking in and saying yes to what they’re looking at, what they’re doing, where they are, where they’re spending their. To me, it reminds me of dieting. When I have a list of things I can’t eat or I’ll stay away from, I tend to gravitate going back to that list eventually.
Cause I’m focused on what I can’t have as compared to having that list of healthy things that I’m going to enjoy. I’m gonna stick to that. I’m gonna stick to the yes list.
Ralph Simone: I love that distinction though, of checking in versus checking out, you know, uh, noticing what causes us to be more present as opposed to distracted.
I love that emphasis because I think, you know, that energetically that seems to be resonating at a much higher level.
Bill Berthel: Absolutely. You know, we tend to, uh, literally and figuratively hit what we focus on. There was a study in the 1950s. There was this odd number of auto accidents on Route 66. The famous Route 66.
In the 1950s, there were telephone poles or electric poles spaced every, I don’t know what they were, 10th of a mile, quarter mile, whatever they were. And oddly, cars kept hitting them. Now, there was great space between each of the poles, but there was an extraordinary number of cars hitting these poles.
And what they found out was when there is a target, when there is something to hit, we go towards it. We, we, instead of going for the void, we hit what’s available to us. So why not hit our goals? Why not hit what we wanna hit by the yes list?
Ralph Simone: Yeah, that I hope my insurance man is not listening, but that may explain my driving
Um, , I tend to be focused on everything but the road as my wife might point out, and so I start to move in that direction.
Bill Berthel: And I think we all do. I think we all do, right? So it’s what do we wanna focus on? So my Helles criteria list is, will I add value by saying yes? So this opportunity presents itself. Am I adding value by saying yes?
Now, value can be sought as many different ways, but you know, in the context of it, am I adding value? Will I later regret saying yes, this one’s really important for me. I find myself later regretting saying yes to some things. And so if I’m a little proactive, I can think about. Will I regret saying yes to this thing?
Well, if I’m gonna regret that, that’s a good indicator of saying no. Am I taking something away from someone else by doing this thing or saying yes to this thing? If so, is that helpful or harmful? Cause taking something away isn’t always harmful. It could be helpful. Maybe I’m being helpful by taking this, or maybe I’m doing some harm to that person’s growth, their development, their opportunity to..
Ralph Simone: Well, I think you wanna be, uh, you wanna guard against rescuing people Right, exactly.
And robbing them of development and growth as you pointed.
Bill Berthel: Absolutely. And then the other element on my list is, do I have the capacity, the commitment, and the capabilities and the right character? For the Yes. And so what that means to me, the capacity is time and energy. Mm-hmm. , do I have the time for this in my schedule or am I adding on to the end of the day or am I squeezing it in or creating another back-to-back meeting?
And do I have the, have I managed my energy from a capacity perspective to say yes to this opportunity that’s in front of me? The commitment, am I just saying yes in the moment to protect myself from the feeling of saying no, from disappointing someone? Is it a hell yes? Is that I want this thing?
Ralph Simone: But I think that goes back to spacing that we talked about in a, in another previous podcast.
Absolutely. In this idea of building a strategic pause in before we just, you know, some people are just very helpful and so the automatic response is yes, but the more intentional response may not be.
Bill Berthel: Right. You know, the capability is important. You know, do I have the knowledge, skills and ability to do this thing in front of me well, or can I develop it in a reasonable way while doing it, I think is important. And then the character, you know, am I saying yes to this from a full holistic sense of I’m leaning in, I’m excited, I’m enthusiastic. Maybe I’m even a little anxious about it, but. Towards the more positive way than, well, I’m saying yes to a, a obligation that I’m really not that excited about.
So is my character in line with the Yes. That I’m about to share?
Ralph Simone: So when you’re using that, that fourth one reminds me of Stephen Covey’s work with the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And he would say that your Yes. Is that burning desire. I love that. Yeah. That’s deep inside of you. And, you know, tap into that before responding to any request.
Bill Berthel: Yeah. So for me, if it’s not a yes on all of these criteria, then it’s a no or a not yet. Yeah.
Ralph Simone: The one thing I struggle with here personally is this balance between being a selfless leader, right? And selfish. But I love leaning into what I wanna say yes to. I wanna say yes to being present. I wanna say yes to being curious.
I wanna say yes to being helpful. That I think then informs the essential things that I get to do today that informs those commitments, those unique events that I spend time on. So I absolutely, I like the focus as opposed to, you know, what are you gonna say no to? What will we say yes to? What’s on your yes list?
Bill Berthel: Yeah, absolutely. I know if I’m focusing on what I’m gonna say no to, I don’t say no to enough.
Ralph Simone: Well, and what you said, and, and we’ve said a couple of times in this, uh, podcast, what we focus on expands and what we wanna focus on is the yes list, the list that will grow and that will have more of a positive impact on more people, more organizations, more leaders, and more lives.
Absolutely. I think there are two key decisions, at least key decisions for leaders around the Yes list. First, is what will you focus on? And I think we strongly encourage him to focus on this shorter yes list. Yes. Those things really drive them. And then I think the second decision is, What will I do?
Which is another way of saying, what are you saying yes to? What are you voting for with your time, your energy, and your attention? So I think those are two key decisions we can make each and every moment of the day.
Bill Berthel: You can listen to a new podcast two times a month here at Get Emergent, where we will bring you contemporary leadership topics and ideas, balanced with best practices you can apply in your leadership.
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