A very wise woman once told me: Just say Yes! – no matter what. She backed this up with a quote from Dag Hammarskjold: “For all that has been, Thank you. For all that is to come,Yes!” Now, Mr. Hammarskjold was a Swedish statesman: Secretary General of the United Nations 1953–61: Nobel Peace Prize 1961. So, I take his counsel quite earnestly! These quotes have both scared me and saved me. That may sound odd; nevertheless, it is true.
Think about the times you said no – or stopped short of taking that ‘leap of faith’. What if you had said yes? Would you be where you are today; would you be doing what you are doing today; what might be different if you had said ‘yes!’?
Allow me to share a story with you.
My son was about 8 years old and he came home from school one day with a grand announcement: Guess what, Mom? I said you would be our Cub Scout Leader! We need a leader and I think it would be fun to be a Cub Scout! Don’t you think it would be fun to be our Leader? They said you really don’t have to know anything – so I thought it would be a good job for you. How ’bout it, Mom? Here is the number of the lady and I told her you would do it, so you gotta call her right now and get it all set up.
Wow! How do you say no to that? Of course, he ran off to play and I had this glazed, stunned feeling that I had been ‘had’ by an 8 year old! I am not sure if I was more amazed that he ‘volunteered’ me to do something I had absolutely no idea how to do, or if it was the sheer confidence he had, or how his statement: ‘you really don’t have to know anything’ spilled from his little lips so easily! What is a mother to do?
Call ‘the lady’ and say Yes! So, I did. I mean, he was so excited – how could I not?
Later that evening, it hit me. I could be influencing the lives and well-being of not only my son, but of eight or nine other young innocents! What in the world did I say Yes to? Is it too late to back out? Would my son ever ask me to do anything that seems so important? I hate camping – do Cub Scouts camp? What about tying knots? The only knot I remember from my Girl Scout days is a square knot – and I have to repeat “right over left and under; left over right and under”. What about the flag? Don’t they do special things with the flag? All this self-limiting’ chatter. Maybe it’s not too late to call ‘the lady’ back and tell her this is a terrible mistake. A leap of faith that this will be fine is one thing – actually doing it is quite another! Look at all the reasons (excuses, justification…) I have to say no.
And now, 30 years later, I say ‘Thank you!’ What an incredible, enlightening, courageous, fulfilling and fun experience it was to lead a pack of 10 young boys in their discovery of the world of and through scouting. It was a leap of faith. Faith that surely someone would be there to guide and support me. Faith that if I did make a mistake (and there were many!) our pack would be okay and we would all learn. Faith that my son would see that Mom does know some things – or at least can figure them out! Faith that someday, this dress-rehearsal in leadership and resilience would serve me well.
I am grateful to those young boys and their parents for the wonderful lessons and experience, as I did take much of the learning with me on my life journey. The understanding of how to motivate and excite a group of people; how to share facts and information in an exciting way; how to develop awareness of differences in nature and people and beliefs; how to listen with an open and empathetic ear/heart; how to be still and to be present to what is in front of me right now.
Sometimes, all we need to do is to breathe and to say ‘Yes!’ That simple word can transport you into a journey of (and for) a lifetime.