Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #53
Default to “yes.”
Several years ago while hauling our patio furniture out of storage at my mother-in-law’s in Mayville, I found a great podcast by Guy Kawasaki, a former software evangelist for apple and now a business leader.
As he was talking about his excellent new book, Enchantment, he talked about a philosophy of his that totally transformed my responses to my colleagues. He said if you want to build a stronger brand and have a great impact on those around you, you should always “default to yes.”
That simply means that whenever someone asks you for a favor or for help or if you want to be on a committee or involved in a project, instead of doing what most people do and say ‘no,’ Kawasaki argues that your default response should be to automatically say ‘yes,’ even though it will be more work for you in the long run.
Why would you ever want to do this?
There are several reasons -
First, this is a great way of pushing yourself of your comfort zone. “No” always keeps you safe inside your comfort zone. “Yes,’ though is demanding that you do something uncomfortable and grow. Or at least learn. Even if the “yes” leads to a negative or less than satisfactory experience, you have learned something. “No” causes you to learn little.
How this worked for me - I didn’t want to be part of the MNHS grant. It was going to be a lot of extra work and reading. But I defaulted to ‘yes’ when Mrs. Semanko suggested I join. And it got me free trips to Boston and Atlanta as well as several lane changes because of the graduate credits I built up from Hamline. Plus, I learned so much more about not only MN history but the history of our country.
Second, it builds reciprocity. If I help you, one day you will help me.
How this worked for me - I have helped out staff members with technology problems and questions. In turn, I have had many of them do the same for me when I was on the opposite end.
Third, you never know where it will lead you. Isn’t that exciting. You know where ‘no’ will lead you. It’ll keep you right where you are. But defaulting to ‘yes’ will take you in a number of directions.
How this worked for me - I was terrified to teach the Teaching and Learning 250 class at UND when Dr. Holen first asked me about it. But I denied the fear and said yes. I have learned so much about the craft of teaching from my experiences in this class that it was maybe the smartest decision I have made in my career the last several years.
Fourth, it will lead to new connections. By helping others out and getting out of your comfort zone, you will meet more people and become involved in more projects, thereby widening your network of connections.
How this worked for me - I was terrified to change my College Comp 2 final evaluation. But I didn’t listen to the fear so I asked Mr. Zutz about doing mock interviews for our final evaluation with various members of the community, much like our mock interviews in social studies.
Mr. Zutz suggested that instead I talk to the HR department at Digi Key and have them interview my students. I did that and I have made so many connections out there that I can’t imagine not having them. I have had Sara Pederson and Kathy Fynbogh both in to speak to my classes as well as that led me to being involved in robotics (again something I wanted to say ‘no’ to).
So the next time a staff member or colleague asks you to be involved resist your gut instinct to say ‘no’ and instead default to ‘yes.’ Just do that for one single school year and see where it leads you.