10 Things I Learned by Saying "Yes" in 2014

"I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear. Knowing what must be done does away with fear."   ~Rosa Parks


By nature, I have always been an extremely cautious person. In fact, I've maintained, these past 4 years, that I don't possess the true spirit of "Risk-Taking" that is so commonly inherent among entrepreneurs...I often see an opportunity, assess the risk, begin asking the what-ifs, and then get sick to my stomach. I never enter a challenge that I am not CERTAIN that I can win. And that usually ends the opportunity. But this past year was different: This year, by some strange possession of character, I started saying "YES" in moments I would normally say "No". And it has made ALL the difference in my direction. Who knows- maybe it was because I turned 40 this past year. Or maybe it was because my team declared it the year of the Honey Badger- no more messing around. Look at him- He don't even care. 

 Or maybe it was because it was time: GO. GET. IT. Whatever the cause, I said "YES", have experienced the "what-ifs" playing out, for better and for worse, and am still standing tall to tell the story. And here are a few things I've learned from it thus far:

1. If you can't participate in the game, at least show up and watch.

Maybe it's not your time to roll, but you can always benefit from watching how others are approaching the task. Plus, most importantly, it puts you in the same space as others who are already doing it...and can advise and CONNECT you with valuable resources! I picked up our largest account this year while watching an event in Austin!

2. Red flags go before the fall.

When the red flags pop up, STOP. Drop all emotions tied to the situation. And then change course immediately. I've never seen a red flag that wasn't supposed to be there. And as optimistic as I can be, I've ignored them too many times to count, to a detriment. Know this: The heart lies...but the gut won't. 

3.There is life after humiliation. 

We've all heard the stories of Edison and Ford, and those who've failed so many times before success came. But less often, we hear about the lights-out, doors-closed moments of doubt and insecurity that come. They ALWAYS pair with failure. Good news is, the lights turn back on, and you're still alive, wiser than before. And now, you have something else to laugh about! (Believe ME- failure can be hilarious...give it a minute...) Walk on...everyone else has. 

4. Collaboration is a financial  accelerant for business.

Two heads are better than one; Three heads are better than two...You get the idea...But with collaboration, it doesn't work by addition-it uses MULTIPLICATION. It'll take you exponentially farther than you could go alone, in record time. (That ONE Austin account...caused us to double our total sales this year...)

5. Sleep on it.

I have always been slow to make decisions, giving myself sometimes weeks (or more) to decide on something important. But I will admit, most times, that's way too long. A really sound decision usually requires 24 hours to make. The deadline set in your mind will force you to come to a conclusion in a reasonable amount of time, meanwhile giving you time to weigh options. But be sure to add sleep to that process- science AND anecdotal evidence prove that the mind is able to make sound, unbiased decisions during sleep. I have experienced this MANY times...I'm sure you have, too.

6. When you don't know what to do, keep moving.

An object in motion remains in motion. An object at rest remains at rest. Keep moving. You'll eventually get somewhere. No matter how long it takes. I remember years ago, when I was a teen waitress, I had a couple of customers who regularly sat at my table. I told them I wanted to go to Paris one day, but couldn't afford it. They told me to start saving money NOW, and by the next year, I could be in Paris. They said, "Either way, next year will come. So why not Paris?" Guess where I was the next year? Allons-Y!

7. Know WHEN you've said enough.

This one is a tough one for me personally. I feel like I'm being transparent when I lay all my cards out on the deck, but I'm really just being foolish.  T.M.I. is a sign that: A.) I don't fully understand who my audience is, and B.) I haven't discerned which information is necessary for communication. I met with an investor recently, and he kept waving his hands back and forth as I spoke- a sign that he neither had the time nor cared for my superfluousness. Calibrate.

8. Chew the meat, spit out the fat. 

Wisdom is hidden everywhere. It's buried like treasure in the most unexpected places. Look for it in everything. And when you find a glimpse of it buried in fluff, get nourishment from the meat, and discard the filler. The most inspiring piece of wisdom I've received all year was found in a single quotation from a 300-page biography of Bono.

9. Like attracts Like. 

I've spent this entire past year attending networking events filled with thousands of people collectively. And among all of the thousands of people, I've formed close working relationships with about seven of them. And if you were to take those seven people, plus myself, and put us at a table at Chili's, you would think we were family. We all have the same spirit about us- the same values...the same attitudes.
Make sure what you're putting out there is something you like, 'cause whatever it is, it'll cling to you.

10. Free Yourself to Be Yourself. If Only You Could See Yourself.

Ok...that was a lyric from a new U2 song, but it's true: ONLY YOU can offer the world what you have to give. So many times, especially in business, we don't think we know the way. But we really do. It's all IN us. Put down the guides and manuals. No more chasing after mentors. Stop questioning yourself. You KNOW WHAT TO DO. It's in your gut. It's different from how others are doing it. But it'll work. Get on with it.

And beyond ALL of those benefits, I've learned to pause and enjoy the journey. It's the only time I'll be HERE, in this moment. Now. How about YOU? What are your going to say "YES" to this year? Here's a gift from Seth Godin to you:

  seth godin  

Go Get It! And if ya like what you're reading, how 'bout sharing with your friends? FB, Tweet, or Pin it :)

Keri Lehmann
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