Honor Your “No”

Q+A sessions at Angel Summit last weekend is where my favorite speakers became my favorite speakers. It’s all bc they each said “no.”

“I can’t answer that, it has to be your decision.”

“I can’t possibly make that call.”

“I’m sorry for what you’re going through, and I’m not qualified to answer that for you.”

“I can’t be your mentor… I want to be home at 3pm to make my kid a snack when they get home from school.”

Our “yes” muscle has been conditioned quite well, and is generally far stronger than our “no” muscle. Especially in business. With business being an area still largely steeped in masculine energy, striving, driving and proving are easy habits to fall into. When we say “yes” all the time, we run the risk of diluting and depleting ourselves. Our brands, offerings, and most importantly our energy, usually to the point of burn-out. Whether it’s in or out of a business context, we say “yes” for many reasons that all usually come back to one root: to win acceptance.

We worry that saying “no” will push people away, that it will limit us. In fact, saying “no” to one thing gives us space to say “yes” to something else. Take the last answer I quoted as an example, that person knew if they said “yes” to being someone’s mentor, it would mean that they would not be able to be home at 3pm to make their kid a snack. Saying “no” can be an opportunity-creator rather than an opportunity-limiter. I respected each of the speakers who said “no” even more than before because they honored their “no.”

This isn’t meant to inspire you to go off and say “no, no, no” to everything in your life; it’s about saying “no” to what is not aligned with your energy, purpose, why, desire, et cetera. This practice will allow more resources for you to say “yes” to what is aligned with your energy, purpose, why, desire, et cetera. And before you have an existential crisis about finding your purpose, pause and take a breath.

Staying aligned with yourself can be as simple as “what next action is going to bring me closest to myself?” If your eyes are glazing over, I get it. It’s taken me a while to integrate this lesson into my life. A few years ago I did a speaking event for lululemon athletica, and I spoke about how we need to curate our lives similar to the way Curators curate art exhibits in galleries. Imagine your life as an art gallery. Each activity, behavior, and person is a piece of art that is a reflection of you. At some point, you said “yes” to that piece of art being added to your collection. Eventually you run out of wall space and in order to say “yes” to one piece, you will have to say “no” to another. The piece of art that makes your gallery more beautiful, is a truer reflection of yourself or your business, is the piece that gets the “yes.”

What were the last three things you said “yes” to? What made you want to say “yes” to them? How have they contributed to you or your purpose, or gotten you closer to yourself?

If you feel called to share them, I’d love to hear your answers. More on this topic later, for now, happy curating everyone!


If you want to dive deeper into your why or desires, I recommend books from two of my favorite Archangel Summit speakers:

“Find Your Why” by Simon Sinek

“Desire Map” by Danielle LaPorte