My last post was about saying no. This post is about saying yes. Not to work, because I don’t think anyone particularly needs advice on saying yes when people want to give you money to do the thing you do. No, this post is about saying yes to opportunities that, quite frankly, scare the living shit out of you. I’ve been doing a bit of that lately, and it’s been very interesting.
I wrote here about how I don’t like looking like an idiot, and for many years this held me back in so many ways. But I’m running a business now, and fear is the path to the dark side. Or at least the business-failure side, which is not really an option because I have bills and children who need school shoes (why are they so expensive? Why?).
When I was asked to take part in an SfEP editors round table as part of ALLi’s Self Publishing Advice Conference my initial reaction was that I couldn’t think of anything worse. For someone who talks a lot, I get a bit freaked out at the idea of anyone actually listening to me. What could I possibly have to say that’s worth paying attention to? But then I figured the person who asked me must have thought I was worth including, so, with my inner life-coach (basically the voice of my little sister, who is the most brilliantly pushy person I know) hissing into my ear, and before I could think too much about it, I said yes.
And it went really well. I didn’t make all the points I ideally would have made. I lost my train of thought at least once. But at the end of it all, I felt as though I hadn’t made a total fool of myself, and that we’d created a useful, interesting resource for authors, which of course was the whole point. And imagine my delight when, a couple of days later, I got an enquiry from a prospective client who’d seen the video and was interested in working with me. I must have actually said Useful and Interesting Things! Or maybe she just liked the look of me. I brushed my hair and everything.
I was, as you can imagine, feeling pretty happy after that. And so when the opportunity came up to lead a session at this year’s SfEP conference, I took a very, very deep breath and said yes to that too. I am terrified. I’m not sure I’ll do a good job. Part of me still doesn’t quite know why anybody would want to hear me speak about anything. But those are not good enough reasons not to try.
I don’t know how the session will go (although I once went to a conference session where the speaker was so bad that the head of the company had to step in and take over. As long as I do better than that, I’ll be happy). But I do know this – every time over the last two years that I have stepped out of my comfort zone and said yes to a new opportunity, I have gained something. Sometimes all I got out of it was a helpful lesson of what not to do in the future. But more often, I’ve made a new connection, learned a new skill, or found something out about myself as an editor, a business owner, or just a general human being.
That’s worth saying yes to.