Podcast Episode 25: The Power of No

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The power of no. It’s a worthy journey to look back at some of your biggest disappointments. Where did the no’s turn into big yeses? The no’s can leave you open to other opportunities that may be where you need to go next.  In the episode, we’ll discuss: 

  • The three types of No’s and what to do about them
  • How the No’s in your career can result in your most significant growth. 
  • Tips for how to manage the No’s in your life

Where did the no’s turn into big yeses? The no’s can leave you open to other opportunities that may be where you need to go next.

Read the Transcript
Hey friends. Welcome back to the Career Refresh podcast. This is my 25th episode. Holy moly that’s 6 months. When I first thought about creating a podcast to bring career strategy content to people I did not believe I’d have 6 months of content in my head and I certainly didn’t believe I could talk for more than 10 minutes.

But ya know, hey, mindset. I am a student first and I practice all that I talk about. I worked my brain into a place of possibility and thought…but what if I could?

So here we are 25 episodes later and I get to bring these ideas and thoughts into the world to help others. This work is my ministry and I love that I get to show up and do it.

Today I want to talk about the power of No. The NO’s we experience and the no’s we choose throughout our careers and our life.

When NOs happen….you’re not the candidate, you’re not on the short list, you’re not invited to the meeting, a client declines to move forward with your well strategized and researched proposal.

There’s a tremendous opportunity to rethink the no. Many of us go to a place of what’s wrong with us. We may question our talent, competency, and worthiness.

I’m here to talk about what if we digest the no and then flip the no. Could the no be an opportunity? Rejection is protection right?

I have an opportunity to look at my thoughts and the facts around the no. The goal would be to find a way that even if the no totally sucks, that there’s a refresh and a neutralization of the no.

That’s where the magic lies—our ability to rethink and change our minds.

No’s can be pretty life-changing. The No’s in my career resulted in my most significant growth.

I’ve been fired. Yup, that’s a no.
I’ve been downsized. Another no.
And I had a pretty serious head injury that subsequently told me NO for the next 10 years.

Listen, I am not claiming I knew it was an opportunity at the moment. At the moment, it sucked.

I got coached. I looked at my thoughts. I made a decision about how I wanted to feel about the circumstance.

And eventually figured out that I get to choose how I want to think about a situation.

This doesn’t mean I figured it out overnight. I mean that over time, getting curious about a situation, the NO, and my thoughts, I was able to neutralize the yuck feelings enough that I could then begin to rebuild my thoughts as an opportunity.

And you know what? Every no, up-leveled me. I didn’t just get back on my feet at the same level where I left off. The no’s gave me time to think and choose my approach wisely. The no’s excelled me.

The no’s were powerful gifts.

Getting reduced and downsized early on in my career helped me get clear on my professional community and my network. It launched me into being of service to others and deciding that I will always connect and help someone looking for a job. Building this reputation as a connector has brought so much opportunity and value into my life. And a lot of friendships too.

Getting fired early in my career sucked but it also didn’t. I was miserable. The boss that hired me was let go and a new regimen was moving in. Because of my unmanaged mind, I treated every day like I was sitting in the waiting room. And I was waiting. Sitting in fear.

I recall that I had plans to go away for a long weekend and my new boss approved the time off. 

At 4:45pm on a Friday she tells me I can’t go because she’d prefer me to work on a project for the sales team. I didn’t work in sales. I didn’t know anything about the sales strategy. 

She eventually released me 4 hours later and I was able make the last bus to my getaway destination. 

I recall laying in bed on Monday morning thinking…if I could just have a few extra days off…If I could just have a break to rethink and figure this whole thing out, I’d be ok. 

I went back to work on Tuesday and she called me into the conference room. HR popped out from behind the door. Smooth. She told me I was strategic, successful and fabulous but today was my last day. I remember saying to her, so you don’t want strategic, successful and fabulous people on your team? She said, no, I don’t. Then she walked out.

This experience was equally laughable and shocking. But it launched me into thinking I will always bet on myself.

I will also be resourceful and I will have agency of self. In the months following, I made the plan to start my own business. It took a few more jobs and years to realize the dream. But the seed was planted that day. I mentally thank her regularly. She gave me the push. The power of no.

The first neurologist I saw after my head injury told me to avoid planes, trains, and automobiles. Oh, and boats. I thought he was kidding.

You know, The John Candy and Steve Martin movie. He said I would eventually get worse and worse and be wholly bedridden.

I was like dude I live on an island. The only way around and off the island of manhattan is by a plane, ok helicopter, a train, a car, or a boat.

That no. That No launched me into a big NFW.

A doctor will not tell me how to live my life.

I will choose how to live my life. 

That No propelled me with a voracious hunger to learn about everything I could about the mind. And here I am today with a business that helps people with their minds.

I also thank this neurologist regularly. Without his feedback I don’t know how long I would have waited around before I made a decision to strive within my new reality. The power of no.

It’s a worthy journey to look back at some of your disappointments. 

Where did the no’s turn into big yeses? The no’s can leave you open to other opportunities that may be where you need to go next.

Where has No taken you in your career?

I look at NOs in a few ways.

First there’s the clear NO. We get the actual words, NO or we get an email. And you are clear in the other person’s response.

No is The End has a completion to it. It’s final. And in that finality, we are not propelled to a beginning. 

Maybe you’ve attempted to get to a solution and you’re aligned with this END. You make a decision and move on.

No as the beginning. I get a chance to really listen to others and understand where someone is coming from in their No.

No, may mean, ‘we can’t offer you the promotion’…or ‘I can’t proceed with your plan’,

No, is an opportunity. And it’s your first opportunity to solve the problem.
I may not accept the NO, and therein lies the opportunity. I get to slow down, look at the data, and my results, and decide where to go next. I get to keep showing up and to learn from my past choices and my mistakes.

I first met Sheri Salata, the executive producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show back in my career in media and advertising. She recently wrote a book titled, the beautiful no, part memoir, but definitely a collection of gems and stories.

The book talks about her journey to and post Oprah. The idea of no, the beautiful no, first brought her to Oprah and eventually towards the life she wanted to create next.
She was 35 years old when she got the entry level job on the show. She had just received a no from another opportunity that she really wanted. That no left her open and able to accept the freelance gig with Oprah when the show called.

That no became a spiritual foundation for her.

And then there is the silent NO. The no that left you without a response, the no resulted in you being excluded or not invited.

What does the silent NO bring up for you? This can be a trigger for many. Why won’t they just ANSWER?

With the silent no, I like to think about timelines. Meaning it can be silence for this week, or month, or years. But where you get to , and how I want to choose to proceed from the silent no is all in our court. This is when you get to choose is it final or a no for now?
Then you work your mindset and how you want to approach the path forward.

There’s when we say I’m done. NO. Enough. I want something different even if I don’t know what that is, or where to find it.

Naomi Osaka’s said no at the French Open to focus on her mental health.

Simone Biles, the greatest of all time, the 7 time Olympic champion. The most decorated gymnast of all time.

She said no.

By withdrawing from competition citing concerns over her mental health, Biles showed that resisting expectations can be more powerful than persisting through them. Her no was for herself. Enough was enough.

Simone’s no will probably be one of the most memorable things about the Tokyo Olympic games.

She tweeted “The outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before,” she tweeted.

The power of no.

You have to build the process, the plan, the rules for your own life. 

What are your non-negotiables? Know that every day is yours to create. How are you managing your career, life, and the evolution of you?

Your words shape your experiences. Every master has told us this, so I am reminding myself and you that words matter.

You get to pick how you want to reframe and reset your thinking. Sheri Salata said recently “When I began to take my words seriously, my life changed dramatically.”

Separate story from fact. Get clear that often the first thought around the No is random. 

It isn’t not your fault. The second thought is all yours to manage. Look at your crappy thoughts and see if you can respond to yourself in a softer, kinder way? If someone that you loved that

Ok, now for some practical tips. How to respond to NO:

Not responding is not the best idea. A can be for now and it may not be forever. While you may want to blow it off and move on, think about it for a minute. Is that the result you want? How about creating a different impression. If someone is professional enough to get back to you, you can respond with your version of thanks for the feedback and I would like to stay in touch.
Don’t respond negatively. Assuming this is a professional exchange and the person who has said NO has not been raised by wolves, then they probably have an inkling that the NO may lead to disappointment.
Responding positively and graciously is unexpected and powerful. 

Have you ever received a positive response to your NO to someone else? I did and she blew me away. In fact, I am talking about her on my podcast. She applied to work in my group and while she was a qualified candidate she was not the strongest candidate for the position. Her response to the NO was courteous and thoughtful. I remembered her email and when I saw her name months later on a list of possible candidates, I hired her. She said she was shocked that I remembered her. We remember when someone makes an expected move and leaves an impression on us.

It’s not about you. Even if your name is all over it. I know it may feel like it’s about you but I promise you it’s not. The decision is about them. Their thoughts. Their needs. And if it was your opportunity, you’d have it. How do I know? Because you’d already have it. You can’t lose what’s not yours.

When No IS all about you. What are your non-negotiables? Where are you a no but a stand for YES for yourself? When have you gained sovereignty and agency because you said enough?

Give this some thought. Where are the NOs in your life opportunities?

Ok my friends, let me know where NOs have taken you in your life.
Who’s on your team helping you with your career strategy? I’d be honored to help you. Check out the details in the show notes where you can apply for my program.

Alright my friends. Thanks for joining me this week. Until next time.

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