Toastmasters Speech #10 – Three little letters

Have you ever turned down a party invitation because you wouldn’t know many people there? Or been asked to go out on the dark side – but didn’t go because you couldn’t be bothered?

Have you ever stood watching your friends do something that looked really fun but you thought you’d look stupid so you didn’t give it a go?  Or when you were overseas did you stop yourself from doing something because it was just a little bit out of your budget and you convinced yourself that you’ll go back and do it next time but you never got back there?

What about when you were a kid? Did you not eat certain foods because you thought you didn’t like them even though you had never even tried them?  Are you still doing that? Here – have some Brussel sprouts…

I think these sort of things happen a lot to people. We say no because of some unfounded fear, because we are lazy, because we don’t want to spend the money or simply we think we won’t like it.

But just think about how much you are missing out on every single time you say no. Think about the people you could have met, the places you could have gone and the interesting life you could have led if only you had been saying yes instead of no.

I heard a quote the other day by Michael J Fox who said “there’s no point in worrying because if something does eventually happen, then you’ve lived through it twice. It’s so true.

So tonight, I’d like to convince you to start saying YES to things. To not worry, and to open yourself up to opportunities and see where that leads you.

Why should you say yes? I know what you’re thinking. You life is great.   You live in Manly – the best place in the world. You’ve got amazing friends that you’ve had for 20 years and don’t have enough time to see them, let alone get to know any new ones. And you are perfectly happy eating butter chicken at your local Indian every single time.

Well – let me warn you.   If you don’t start saying yes then you are going to become a very boring person. Without saying yes, you’ll have nothing new to talk about. So don’t get stuck in your ways. If you just do the same old thing day in, day out with the same old people then what’s the point of living? It’s just groundhog day and you’re just existing.  And that’s terrible.  We live such a privileged life here in Australia that I actually think it is our moral obligation to make the most of it.  How dare we not take every opportunity available to us and live life to the max.

So leading by example, a couple of months ago I started doing and improvisation acting course as a result of an inspiring speech by Jason about pushing our boundaries – and one of the first things we learnt was to always accept an offer. To say yes.  Yes and… By saying yes it allows a scene to continue and gives the actors room to grow.  And I’ll give you an example of how this works.

Character #1: What a hot day it is, would you like to go to the pool?

Character #2: Yes, and we could collect Bill on the way

Character #1: Yes and maybe get an icecream when we get there.

Character #2: Yes, and then we can have a bbq afterwards.

But if the offer isn’t accepted with a yes then it shuts down the scene.

Character #1: What a hot day it is, would you like to go to the pool?

Character #2: No I haven’t got time…

Ohhhh – that’s a downer – you can see how there is nowhere to go from that scene.

And I think this is what people do to their own lives by not saying yes. They prevent their own scenes, their own lives, from developing. How are you ever going to meet new friends, learn new things or realise that foie gras is one of the yummiest foods on the planet if you don’t say yes.

So I’d like to encourage you to do my 30 day say yes challenge.

For the next month I want you to say yes to anything and everything that pops up. Don’t think about looking silly. Don’t think about money. Don’t think about time.

I’m not asking you to say yes to robbing a bank or stealing a car, but if you’re debating between doing something or not, as Nike says – just do it.  I promise you you’re not going to die. J

I want you to say yes when you are asked to go out.

I want you to say yes when you are asked to do something challenging at work.

I want you to say yes when you see an ad for something you’ve kind of always wanted to try..

Etc Etc. Etc.

Every single opportunity that comes your way, I want you to say yes.

And especially to say yes to doing things with people you don’t know – after all – a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met.

As a traveller I’ve had many an interesting journey just because of that one little word. I’ve done things I never thought I would do, been to places I never intended to explore, and I’ve made amazing lifelong friends along the way.  And back home I make a point of taking up every opportunity in my everyday life. I’m busy – extremely busy, but I’d much rather be busy that wasting my life watching TV or gossiping about people because I haven’t got anything new to say.

Over the long term, the benefits of a life of yes will far outweigh any negatives that might be associated with any one given decision.

You will become a more interesting person.
You’ll be living life to the fullest
You’ll have more friends.
And you’ll have an increase in your positive emotional energy.

You are not getting any younger. So unless you start now, you’ll never get around to it – whatever it is.  So don’t let life pass you by from fear, laziness or simply comfort.  Next time an opportunity comes your way, what are you going to say?