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When to Turn “No” into a Big Fat “Hell Yeah!”


Have you ever been met with ‘no’ when you were going after something you really, really wanted?
Times like this ask us to get crystal clear about our desires and the motivation behind them. 


What’s Driving Your ‘Yes’?

A couple of weeks ago one of my best friend’s sons turned a firm and repeated ‘no’ into an incredible, soul singing, heart lifting ‘Yes!’.

Finn was denied participation in the Whistler World Whip Off Championship this year because he was only 14. To give you an idea of his passion for sports – he has been riding seriously since he 5 was years old, and he’s been a provincial champion in each of these disciplines: hockey, ski racing, BMX racing and downhill mountain biking.

He snuck into his first Whip Off Event when he was 12 and was doing great, but got spotted by someone who knew his age and ousted him. Last year his sights were firmly set on officially entering because 13 year olds were going to be allowed in, but he got injured the day before and was devastated that once again he would miss the opportunity to compete.

So he was determined that this year would be his year – until he found out 2 weeks before the event that they had changed the entry criteria this year and only World Pros who were 18 years and older would be invited to participate.


Nope, No, Not Gonna Happen

The problem with this particular no is that it was strictly based on age, and did not take into account Finn’s considerable ability and maturity as an athlete.

His Dad called the event organizers on his behalf, asking them to consider letting him ride, and they said no.

His Mom called and asked if they could adjust the liability waiver as a one off for him. They said they would consider it – and came back with a no.

Finn called them and poured his heart out asking to be allowed in, and they replied, “As hard as this is for us to say – no.”


Turnin’ It Around

Despite all the no’s, this yes kept gathering steam. The local downhill biking community and industry, fully aware of Finn’s gift as a rider, rallied on social media – creating the hashtag #LetFinnIn. And that’s when the tide began to turn. The hashtag started gaining serious momentum, putting pressure on Crankworx to reconsider. This was becoming a bad PR scenario, and ultimately they caved and allowed him to compete.

As awesome as it was that Finn now had the opportunity to ride with all of his heroes – the coolest part is this:

He totally kicked ass and took 1st place in the competition. Uh-huh.

And here’s the thing, his competitors were as happy about it as his fans. The whole experience is a testament to the character of these riders, as well as their respect for Finn’s talent and his right to ride with them.


The Cues Are There if We’re Paying Attention

There were the clear indicators that this ‘No’ was meant to be a ‘Yes’.

The energy behind the ‘no’ was coming from rules (it’s the way it is), protection, ass covering, and keeping things ‘clean and simple’.

The energy behind the ‘yes’ was coming from a place of enormous peer, friend and family support, deep appreciation of this natural athlete’s skill and talent, and a real desire to see his potential expressed and realized. No brainer – it was absolutely wanting to be a yes.

So what do you do when your ‘yes’ is not unfolding the way you want? What’s the best strategy when doubt gets triggered? It’s interesting how a ‘no’ can start to mess with your momentum and clarity of purpose.

How do you know when “No” means: “Stop moving toward this…”- and when it means:
“Lean in and keep going for what you want”?


Curiosity and Courageous Looking

When we’re feeling denied or shut down, and it’s unclear whether we should bow out gracefully or keep pursuing what our heart wants – there are tools that can help us navigate skillfully forward.

Start by getting clear about the energy of what you want – the ‘yes’ – and the energy of the ‘no’ that’s meeting your yes. Does anything feel rigid, closed, limited or somehow “off”? If so, get curious about why that is. 

Here are some places to look:

  • Will this ‘yes’ compromise any of your top values? Integrity, health, and friendship are just a few to check for.
  • Will anyone else be negatively impacted as a direct result of you getting your yes? If so, could that impact ultimately be in service of them?
  • Do more things seem to be lining up to support the yes or the no?
  • Are you feeling compelled to trust and let things unfold, or does it feel like you’re pushing back hard against an immovable force?
  • What is motivating your ‘yes’? What is the deepest ‘why’ behind your desire?
  • Check with others who are either supporting your ‘yes’, or trying to convince you to accept the ‘no’. Are they truly committed to your best interests? If so – that’s important information.
  • On the other hand, is it their agenda, what they want for you? Or worse, is their ‘advice’ (or your own inclination to back down) coming from a place of fear? If so, don’t let this confuse your vision. Trust your gut first and foremost to tell you if the ‘no’ is a red light or a green light.


When No Really Means No

There are times when the ‘no’ is filled with signs that this is not the way to go forward if we are honest with ourselves and really listen. It can be a subtle and rich dance to push up against the ‘no’ and feel into it for this information. Often it takes touching it several times to know for sure, but the energetic info is always there if we pay attention.

Open your heart to the ‘no’ and ask why it might actually be in service of you.

Sometimes it means you’re getting sucked into tunnel vision, and the universe is wanting you to stay open to the possibility that what you want may come in a form you never imagined. If you’re intention and motives are true, no often just means ‘find another way’.  

And if you’re aiming for the wrong target, then life is simply doing some error correcting for you.


When to Shoot for the Stars

On the other hand, there are times when your ‘yes’ is so deeply authentic and true in your being that what is being asked of you when ‘no’ shows up is the passion and commitment to keep the faith, find creative ways around the obstacles, and stay your course.

When your ‘yes’ feels possibility focused and full of life force – then put a few miles of distance between you and the naysayers (both inner and outer), powerfully align with people who support your desire, and be constantly on the lookout for opportunities to keep making your dream a reality.


Check out Mindspark Cinema’s great 5 minute video of Finn’s story:


Good to ponder:

“To attract something you want, become as joyful as you think that thing would make you. The joy, not the thing, is the point.” – Martha Beck

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One Response to When to Turn “No” into a Big Fat “Hell Yeah!”

  1. Lisa Weber says:

    Awesome story & blog post…So motivating!

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