The other day, my friend in New York sent me a bizarre gift. It’s a small box with a large button on top. When pressed, a voice yells “No No No.”
It’s a “no” box.
This got me thinking the fact that many people will do almost anything to avoid hearing that one word. Yet sometimes a "no" can lead you to the perfect "yes." Sometimes it’s the ultimate catalyst.
When I graduated college, my first job was working in Seattle in a crazy advertising office with six guys. With my English degree, I was hired to be the main editor and copywriter. At first I enjoyed it all since we were free to dress casually in jeans, and I was happy cleaning up everyone’s bad copy.
We each had our own cubicle, and I saw how sometimes the guys would work with their feet up on their desks as they mulled over stuff. So one day, I just propped my own legs up too; it was very comfortable!
You would have thought I’d pulled the pin on a grenade. Within about 15 minutes, my supervisor, a blustery man named Blake who was probably all of two years older than me, strode in wagging his finger, and yelled, “Oh, no, no! YOU can’t do that!”
“But why?” I asked, “I’m in jeans, what difference does it make?”
He looked at me flabbergasted. “No, cuz you’re a GIRL! It’s out of the question! You’ve gotta be a lady! Now you put your feet down RIGHT NOW.”
Well, I grew up in the feminist movement of the 70s, so that was one "no" I sure couldn’t live with. I mean, I didn’t see why I couldn’t sit comfortably in my own office like the men. And so, within a week, I quit.
But here’s what funny. I’ve blessed Blake so many times for that dumb rule. Because at that pivotal moment, I made the clear decision that affected all that would come. I knew I would work for myself, no matter WHAT.
He helped me decide to be my own boss and carve my own way. He fueled the fire to take what felt at the time like a huge risk. Sometimes when people ask if it’s hard being self-employed, I still giggle and think, “But I can SIT how I want!”
And if he hadn’t existed, who knows? I might have stayed in that office for years just for the security. The work was tolerable; the pay was decent. I truly bless that Blake. He cracked my whole life open so possibilities emerged I never could have imagined.
I might never have had the guts to dive into what I’m really here to do.
That simple "no" gave me more conviction and courage than any "yes."
So are there "nos" you’re hearing that might be serious blessings in disguise?
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