In Between Yes and No

In between the answers YES and NO we can find the place of NOT YET – but only if we are wise enough to look.   If you are like me, you typically think of YES and NO as absolute.  It either is or it’s not…there’s not a lot of wiggle room. But what if there were more wiggle room, more possibilities? What if, in between being told “yes” and “no” there is a place of preparation and self-management?  That’s the value of NOT YET.

Here’s how my eyes were opened to that lesson. I was working toward an important professional certification and thought I was prepared. Imagine my response when I was told I had failed an important part of the exam. I was blindsided! My first response was to run headlong into NO. NO – I wasn’t going to get the coveted prize. Theimages-2 realization took the wind out of my sails. I was angry, embarrassed and determined to believe the worst of the credentialing system. After all, it told me I was a failure. You see, I was taking up residency in the land of NO.

In the midst of my angst, I was fortunate to be surrounded by people who believed in me. They brought me into the energy of NOT YET. In fact, husband Paul had to come in and get me – yank me out of the energy of failure – out of NO – to bring me up and out to NOT YET.

When I made the move into NOT YET, it became clear that seeing the possibility of a positive outcome in the end doesn’t mean the path will be easy. In fact, the opposite is often more true. Getting from NO to YES takes courage, hard work and a willingness to accept how we are seen by others – not just how we see ourselves. When I mustered the courage to live in NOT YET, I discovered a sense of urgency and determination. It was a place of hard work and hope.

What’s the lesson here? I think it’s two-fold. The personal lesson is to look for NOT YET when I hear NO. We have to be wise enough to understand that some NOs are absolute – people die, positions are filled with someone else, seasons end. But if I look, I might find the NOT YET. Sometimes it is clearly in front of me; sometimes it’s on another playing field. The point is to look. Once possibility of NOT YET is discovered, it’s important to remember that the journey will probably be challenging. The land of NOT YET is aspirational – and it’s not for wimps.

The second lesson is a leadership lesson. When someone around you – or someone you are responsible for – gets a NO, help them find their NOT YET. You can help them see what is beyond, what is possible when they’ve just gotten a NO. When I was blind to possibilities, others gave me the gift of vision.

We are called on to deliver NO’s as leaders (coaches, parents, teachers). The lesson is to remember NOT YET. When we practice looking for the path to YES, we teach others to, as well.

YES is not always automatic. Sometimes it can take a lot of NO’s to get to YES. Looking for the NOT YET offers hope and the whole world of possibilities!

(*Enormous gratitude goes to friend, Dottie Cook, who expanded on these ideas during an inspirational sermon)

I CAN too throw a party!

Now that I’ve written about “limiting beliefs” they began to tumble around me like playful children. I was thinking about the “little do” that I threw last week when I had my book club in for dinner and discussion. I took the day off to prepare… I was so panicked I felt like I should have taken the whole week off! to get ready. I was so flustered I finally had to stop and ponder what was going on.

I realized that the critic in my head kept telling me that my house wasn’t big enough, clean enough or fancy enough… I live in a VERY nice

After all, what makes a misfit???

neighborhood. Then the voice started in on the food. “You haven’t created a theme. You’re not a very good cook. You don’t even know if people have food allergies!” You probably understand the “critical voice” drill. The hard I try, the louder it gets. It sure can get old.

Just for the record, the party went fine. The food was delightful, the conversation and friendship was fabulous. Mission accomplished. The limiting beliefs were wrong. HA! Even with that, I was giving the ole LB’s too much space.

Then it hit me. My limiting beliefs aren’t just about me. When I am consumed and designed by limiting beliefs, they have as big an impact on those around me as on me. Here’s where I’m going with this. Remember that I spent the hours prior to my party focused on how people were going to judge me and how hard it would be to live up to the expectations (that I was making up)! How welcoming is that? More than questioning my ability to be a hostess, I was coloring the character of my guests. From the smallness of my limiting beliefs I was seeing my friends as judgmental shrews who were simply coming to see what I had done wrong. If that were true, you’d have to question my taste in friends! And its NOT true, they are incredible women.

Oh, the power of limiting beliefs! When I look at life through the lens of limiting beliefs I play small and I see a world of scarcity.

So what’s to be done about it? This is simple – be ready for it. What’s to be done? Just notice. Notice when the energy inside you is tense, hard and unpleasant. That’s the time to stop and look inside: How am I seeing the world? What am I making up? What is showing up as a belief – a truth – that is powerful but limiting?

Here’s the caution. Limiting beliefs will try to convince you that they are true–that I’m a lousy cook,or that my house is dumpy – that I’m not good enough and no matter how hard I try I’ll probably fail.

The real truth here? Limiting beliefs are the critical voices in our heads that we can say “no” to.

I mentioned noticing the energy. Here is how it works. if you notice tension or churning – that negative energy that makes what you are doing “un-fun” that’s it. – you’ve pinpointed it.

Here’s the good news – Just noticing begins to take its power away. Follow that noticing by a deep breath or 2 and relax. Breathe the tension away so you can remember what is good – what had you busy in the first place. In the case of my party it was my friends. They weren’t coming to critique my cooking or my house. They were coming to be together, to share a meal and engage in meaningful conversation.

What are the implications in leadership? Limiting beliefs would have us play small. They would have us make assumptions and judge others. Not good as a leader. Our job is to notice, breathe and turn our attention to what is important and quit follow the energy of the critic!

And so I repaired the sprinkler system myself!

Not to worry, this blog is not about DIY or about how to keep a well running lawn sprinkler system. It’s about limiting beliefs. Funny, it’s a theme that has been showing up for the last week or so–I guess it wants to be written about!

So the limiting belief here–I noticed a sprinkler head laying on its side–the belief: I’ve got to find someone to fix it. Now there’s a $200 reaction. So since I’ve been playing with limiting beliefs I decided to steer the challenge in the face and repair it myself. To make a long story short and to get to the actual point I can wrap that part of the story up by telling you it was really a simple repair and I got it done in a matter of minutes.

The real story is what is the impact of limiting beliefs? The reaction that, “I can’t do it!”? And if that’s not bad enough, that reaction comes with a feeling of helplessness and inadequacy. A limiting belief has me play small and often scared. Okay, okay, fixing a sprinkler system isn’t a life altering event. I get it.

What does have the potential of being a life altering, is becoming aware of the forces that would design us if we allow them–the critical voices in our heads that say, “you can’t do that!” When that voice shows up, I find that I am no longer a choice, I’ve become a victim. Limiting beliefs. Beliefs. What is it in your life you want to believe in? What is possible, or what is limiting?