This past weekend Kate and I were in San Diego, killing some time on the beach before our flight home, when we saw some high school kids playing volleyball.

For those of you who don’t know, Kate and I love volleyball, and we had been itching to play for months.  This was a golden opportunity for us.  All I had to do was ask.  If they said yes, we would finally get to play; if they said no, well, we’d be no worse off that we would if we said nothing at all.

And yet… I felt myself clenching up at the thought of going up and talking to them.

Maybe it was fear of rejection leftover from high school, when I was painfully insecure about “intruding” upon people – especially “cool” people (as these kids looked).  Maybe it was because this was a sport, and I’ve always sucked at sports (though in truth I’m not all that bad at volleyball).  Or maybe it was because the whole thing just felt weird to me – we’re a decade older than these kids, isn’t it strange for us to join them?  We don’t even know them!

I didn’t have the chance to continue mentally masturbating, however. Right as I was beginning to consider the dilemma, the volleyball landed right at our feet, and Kate, unselfconsciously, threw the ball back and asked if we could join too.

And just like that, we were playing volleyball.

When our red eye flight landed in New York City six hours later, I had sand in my hair and a smile on my face.  What a perfect way to end an incredible weekend!  Yet a question haunted me: what if we hadn’t asked?  What if we had been held hostage by my anxiety, preferring to sit quietly and watch because they might say no?

Of course, life would have gone on.  As fun, spontaneous, and memorable as it was, this was just a volleyball game – it wouldn’t have changed the trajectory of my life.

But can I say the same for the multitude of other times I didn’t ask?  That I didn’t start that conversation?  That I didn’t express what I wanted, and requested that I get it?

Can you?

Yeah, I know, nobody likes getting a “no.” Nobody likes rejection. But here’s an interesting thought experiment: how many times has your life been wrecked or actually devalued by a “no?”


One, two, maybe five times?

I’d be shocked if you even got ten.

Meanwhile, how many “yes’s” have changed your life, or at least added massive value to it?

Ten?  Twenty?  One hundred?  One thousand?

I thought so.

The “yes’s” always outnumber the “no’s” in impact.  Massively.  Yet for some reason we focus on avoiding pain rather than gaining pleasure, which is especially stupid when you realize that the pain wasn’t even that bad to begin with. The “hurt” of rejection is largely an illusion.

For example, this past weekend the brilliant Reid Mihalko put us through an exercise where we had to go up to other participants and ask something of them.  Oftentimes the request was as benign as “can I give you a hug?;” something simple and sweet, that you’d totally expect to gain compliance for.

And yet frequently the response was “no.”


But guess what?

We survived.

Indeed, we barely flinched.  If there was any pain whatsoever, it was short, mild, and forgotten within minutes if not seconds.

That’s because once you get out of your head and actually experience a couple of “no’s”  you realize:

No’s aren’t a big deal.

I mean seriously, most of the time they aren’t even about you!

But I can tell you, if I didn’t express my attraction to Kate when I first met her because I was afraid of her “saying no” to my advances, well, maybe I wouldn’t have died, but I can assure you my life would have been a hell of a lot less amazing. All I risked to get that amazingness was a “no,” and should I have gotten one, life would have gone on and I would have been ok (after all, I wouldn’t have known what I was missing 😉 )

She would have been a footnote in my life.  But because I asked her; because I risked that “no” to get a “yes,” now she’s going to be in rest of it.

Am I getting my point across yet?

No’s don’t kill you and yes’s change your life.

The key to success and dynamic living is accumulating as many “yes’s” as possible.  And you only get them when you ask for them and risk the “no’s.”

Now, if the “no’s” rarely even hurt or matter… what the hell are you waiting for?

As the old adage goes, “Ask and ye shall receive.”

And frankly if you don’t, who frickin’ cares.

You will survive.

But if you don’t ask, that might be about all you do.

And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather thrive.

So just do it.

Ask, ask, ask, ask, ask.

You will thank yourself for it later when you’re living the life you always dreamed of.