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Dream Career Toolkit: The Power of Being a “Yes”

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Have you ever noticed that some people are naturally either a "yes" or a “no?” 


I don’t mean that their answer to your question will always be “yes.” What I mean is, whatever the answer, with some people we feel positive and supported.

Whereas, with other people, we feel shut down. Or, that the answer is “no” even when they haven’t fully listened to our question. The whole encounter is negative.

Consider this: We can choose to operate in life as a “yes” or a “no.” And, the results we get will correspond directly.

So, what is a “yes” person, you ask? And why is it important?

It starts with attitude. Being a “yes” means that you operate from a place of abundance. This can sometimes be easier said than done, I know, but this really is a choice. A “yes” person is generous. A “no” person is stingy. A “yes” person looks at the glass as being half-full. A “no” person thinks it’s half-empty.

The renowned theatre director William Ball, founder of ACT in San Francisco, had the mantra “praise to success.” It wasn’t that constructive criticism wasn’t necessary. It was that leading with praise was the most sure-fire way to create a receptiveness in his actors. Then they could hear his notes and soar with them.

Being a “yes” is proactive. If you are a “yes” you look for ways to contribute, to support, to be generous. Why do you do this? Because generosity begets generosity. Support begets support.

Being a “yes” is more fun. Think about it. Who do you want to hang out with? Debbie-Downer? Or the person who makes you feel great? Who is generous and supportive?

Yes” is inclusive. “No” is exclusive. If you are someone who is a “yes” you include and are included. If you are a “no” you exclude, and, well, are excluded.

You can be a “yes” even when your answer is “no.” How, you ask? Well, if you’ve ever gotten a “no” from someone but felt great even as you were being rejected, you know what I’m talking about. How did they do it? The key to being a “yes” even as you say “no” is to be warm, supportive, generous, looking for things to acknowledge and praise, even though your answer in that moment is “no.”

You also do not need to explain why it is a “no.” You can simply say that it’s not a fit for you right now. The key is how you do it. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much effort to make someone feel great, even if you can’t give them what they want in the moment. I’d also say that the “yes” approach takes less effort than the opposite.

Being a “yes” attracts true believers. First, let me talk about true believers by giving a call-out to longtime client Deborah Puette. She defined true believers as “people who have their antenna out for jobs for me.” With this in mind…

Your career success is directly related to the quantity and quality of your true believers.

The more people who have their antenna out for jobs for you, well, the more jobs you’ll have! Okay… So how do you get more true believers, you ask. Be a “yes!”

Think about it. We want to support people who are supportive of us. We want to find ways to give back to people who’ve been generous to us. We love the people who make us feel great. We want to see them succeed.

The secret of being a “yes” is that it creates more “YES” everywhere in your life. By being unselfish, we get so much more in return.

But don’t just take my word for it… Start by saying “yes” to being a “yes!”

Shawn Tolleson is a career coach working with screenwriters and other entertainment industry professionals. She gives you the practical tools you need to accomplish your dream career. Check out blogs, videos, classes and more at!

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