“If it’s not a ‘hell yes’, it’s a ‘hell no!'”
If you haven’t heard that expression, then you probably aren’t in contact with any coaches-slash-“lifestyle design” experts, or anyone who’s being coached and parrots everything they hear. And you probably don’t read any of the self-helpy or businessy blogs that I can’t help browsing every morning.
Everyone gives this same advice about how to decide whether to commit to something — be it taking on a client, or making a coffee date: If your whole being doesn’t immediately light up at the prospect, then you must say no.
I think that’s so off base.
If it were true, I’d say no to just about everything.
My friend Marie, whose advice I generally find to be spot-on, puts it this way: does the idea make you feel expanded [“hell yes”], or contracted [“hell no”]?
For me, if it sounds challenging or risky, then the answer is “contracted.” Being lazy and chicken, I have objections to just about every invitation or task.
Which means, “would you like to watch Real Housewives all by yourself while eating ice cream tonight,” is just about the only thing that makes me say “Hell, yes!”
As for the rest, I say yes because I know that afterward, or maybe even during, I’ll be glad I did. But less than a “Hell, yes!” it’s mostly some version of “Hell, I guess so.”
We need you to write a promo that makes people want to watch the worst show ever made. It’s a David Schwimmer comeback vehicle where he plays a crime-solving horse with a human head. Are you in?
Yikes, that sounds hard. How do you make that look watchable? What if I can’t think of a single idea? What if I do have an idea and it turns into the worst promo ever made? But I want the money and maybe I’ll come up with something miraculously good. So, hell, OK.
Do you and Steven want to come to our country house for the weekend?
Didn’t you once say your country house has only one bathroom? I hate sharing one bathroom with another couple. I have lots to do in there! I can’t take my time if I hear someone’s feet shuffling impatiently on the other side of the door. But on the other hand, a weekend with friends would be fun, and get us out of our “read the paper, futz around on the computer, go get flowers, watch some TV and then maybe go to dinner” routine. Always good to get out of your routine, right? Hell, sure, we’d love to. I think.
Want to get up in front of 500 people and teach copywriting?
I don’t know, what if I suck? What if I can’t think of anything to teach them that they don’t know? It’s going to be videotaped, right? What if I’m feeling fat that day? But it would be a good experience. So, hell, all right, I’ll do it.
We have extra theater tickets for one month from now. Want to join us?
Theater?! What if it’s bad? Nothing scares me more than the prospect of sitting through a bad play. Except, maybe, that fungal disease that turns you into a human tree. That would be worse than bad theater. But even if it’s a good play, how do I know I’m going to feel like going a month from now? It might be raining out. Then again, I like the people who offered the invitation, and going to see a play makes me more interesting, from what I’ve read. So, hell, why not.
SIDE NOTE: A friend of ours once invited me and Steven to a play that definitely didn’t sound at all good. You could tell it was going to be a stinker. The friend said, “Come on, who would turn down free theater tickets?” To me, that’s like asking, “who would turn down a free haircut?” Hey, miss, would you like our first-year styling students to take their untrained scissors to your head, at no cost?
Now there’s a “hell to the motherfucking no”.
What about you? Do you only say “yes” when it’s a “hell, yes”?
Tell me in the comments.