Growing up I did a lot of theatre with a fantastic group of teachers and students. One of my favorite things we got to do was play improvisation games. These were different kinds of games where random scenarios were thrown at us, and we had to go with it - create a scene and watch the magic unfold. Sometimes the scenes were downright ridiculous. Sometimes absolute brilliance was created. There was only one rule: "Always say yes." Sometimes that was a really tough rule to follow. Sometimes it was scary and hard to figure how to go with the idea. But there's a reason for the rule. When you are creating a scene and a dialogue, if you say "no" to something, the scene is over. There is nowhere to go from there. If you say "yes" there is a whole world of possibility to explore. The more you say “yes,” the more that can be created.
Do you ever catch yourself saying "no" to ideas because they seem impossible, or too hard, maybe even laughable? Where does that "no" come from? Often shutting down ideas comes from fear. Fear of rejection, fear of people laughing at you, fear that you might not be good enough, fear of what might happen next. So essentially fear shuts down possibility.
I was recently dealing with a very large decision that required me to be bigger than myself, to essentially put aside all my fear in order to trust and commit to myself in a way that I never have before. As the fear crept up, it was overtaking my desire to be able to say yes. I had a million VERY GOOD reasons for why NOT to say yes. Our brains are really good at that. And right when I needed it most, I got to witness something very special.
We were at a pretty high-end holiday party, that we were at only because one of my husband's co-workers invited us, knowing how committed our daughter is to making a career in music. The entertainment at this party was a fantastic ensemble of professional jazz musicians. They were all in their 60's and 70's, so old school, and so good. We stood off in the corner not knowing anyone, but thoroughly enjoying such an opportunity to see the pros play. When they took a break, my husband ran into the bass player outside of the restroom and mentioned how much we were enjoying the music, particularly because our daughter is also a bass player. His response, "Great! We'll get her up here to play!" My husband kind of laughed it off...until the bass player found us in the crowd and said to my daughter, "You ready to come up here and play?" I know all our eyes grew big, and I'm pretty certain we were all thinking, "Oh shit . . ."
So let's be real here. Like most parents, I think my daughter is awesome. And I find her to be a pretty darn talented musician. Bass is indeed her main instrument, electric bass that is. She started playing around with the stand up bass a little bit last year. But it's not something she feels super confident on yet, let alone jumping in playing with professional musicians in front of a crowd. So after my own "oh shit" moment and nervous chuckle, I noticed her walking right up to him, talking with him, and him stepping aside. I figured she was just saying, "Thanks, but no thanks." But nope, next thing I know she calls out what key she wants to play in and suddenly she's plucking out the Blues in F with a couple of trumpets, saxophone, and piano all riffing off of each other. Now, to be honest, she did look a little terrified. But she was awesome and played right along with these guys like she belonged there. Afterwards, the support from the crowd and the smile on her face was awe- inspiring. And then to go one step even further, the bass player pulled her aside and talked to her for about 20 minutes in depth about her skill, how to improve, people to study, music to listen to, and perhaps my favorite thing of all - THIS advice, "Don't ever be afraid. Get up on that stage and play with the greats. That's how growth happens."
She could have said “no.” She had million reasons to say “no.” She's only 16, she doesn't know jazz that well, she's only been playing standup bass for a few months, she might screw up and people could laugh at her, she might play the wrong notes...the list can keep going. And yes, that was a really scary thing to be asked to do. She could have let her fear take over and said “no.” End scene. It wouldn't have changed the fun she had. Her night would still be great. But that story would end with that “no.”
She EMBRACED 'YES'. She said, “yes” even though she was afraid. And by saying “yes” her world opened up. She had a new experience, an experience that built confidence, an experience that taught her that she has the strength to be afraid and still get through it, an experience that was SO MUCH FUN. And the possibilities kept opening up for her as she got to have such a valuable, important conversation with someone doing what she wants to do, someone who understands her and was able to give her the kind of advice that will help her achieve her dreams. There is no end in sight from what that one 'YES' did for her.
Pretty crazy timing on this story, huh? Right when I was about to give in to my own fear, a BIG FLASHING sign appeared, showing me exactly the power of embracing yes. Life is funny that way.
So what about this idea of embracing yes? What could it do for you? What possibilities could open up to you that you may never have thought of before?
What might it be like for you to not end your scene?
What could happen for YOU, even if you are afraid, but you say 'YES' anyway?