Becoming a “Yes Person”, One Step at a Time


What does it mean to be a “Yes Person”? As the “Yes Man” movie with Jim Carrey suggests, it is about being open to change. Most of us are scared of change, don’t have the right approach to deal with change when it happens or lack confidence to deal with it. While the movie takes this concept to the extreme, by suggesting that a “Yes Person” would say yes to everything he/she sees, in reality being open to change can do us good.

You can’t be a good leader if you can’t deal with change. Leaders who focus on maintaining status quo miss opportunities, avoid innovation and prevent their staff from developing. At some point, maintaining status quo actually creates more risk than taking on new opportunities. Your leadership style is a reflection of your personality and experience; you can’t be afraid of change in your life outside of work and be innovative leader who celebrates change once you step into the office.

That is why it is important to become a “Yes Person” outside of work if you want to be an innovative leader who embraces change at work. But how does one become open to change? It starts with saying yes to small things. If you want to be flexible and capture benefits of change, your mind needs to be flexible. Below are some ways to start small to get your mind comfortable with change before making big changes. Tested on myself – I started a month ago, having my mind very focused and even stuck on “old, expired” dreams that I had a year ago, even though I learned more, observed more and experienced more and needed to stop and evaluate instead of pursuing the wrong thing. While one can never be completely comfortable with change and uncertainty (unless one is a fool), I transitioned from “completely terrified by change and any possibility of my plans not being fulfilled” to “change is exciting, let’s see what I can accomplish”. Changing perspective is half of the battle.

Small and big changes in the last 4 weeks:

  • Moving out to another kind of place (from condo to apartment) as well as changing neighborhoods
  • This resulted in a different route I take to and from work everyday
  • This also resulted in a lot of new furniture and getting rid of a lot of things that no longer worked (from old big jars that were not functioning to a lot of clothing that I could no longer wear and as a result, should not be storing for no reason)
  • The energy of 27 things – according to Feng Shui, if you want to feel an energy flow in your place, you need to move 27 things around. For example, you can move your lamp from right to left, move small things around or big ones like furniture.
  • Cooking new dishes and experimenting in the kitchen with new ingridients
  • Using new spices changes taste dramatically
  • Reading magazines that you usually don’t read, the bigger the change (e.g. from Cosmopolitan to Economist), the better it is for you
  • Changing the way you do things – storing clothing in different ways, organizing laundry or other items in different way than you are used to
  • Talking to new people – saying hi to people you don’t know at work
  • Reading new books – switching from modern books to books written 100 or 200 years ago – they offer different perspective on life as well as different language
  • Getting and using new shoes and bag. New shoes change the way you walk and your posture, and new bag makes other things different – there is a rumor that happy people do not carry heavy bags. This idea always motivates me to do monthly cleanups to my pursue to ensure I don’t carry things I don’t need that add weight and make it harder to walk. Recent cleanup showed that I probably do not need sunglasses in November.
  • Getting a kitten. Nothing changes your life more than a new pet. It may be a struggle at first, but it’s a happy one. All babies are extremely cute when they are small, they bring a smile to your face, and my breakfasts became more entertaining as I observe the two cats playfully fighting with each other.
  • New lipstick (or other makeup). Nothing affects your self-perception more than the way you look and feel. Makeup can dramatically change the way you look when you try a new lipstick or a new eye makeup.
  • Reading news. Reading news is not the same as believing everything that is on the news, yet being informed makes you feel more confident because you are “in the know”. It also expands your horizons.
  • Going to places you usually don’t go. My recent ones are a 19th century house in Hamilton and an antique books sale in an art gallery.
  • Going to new stores
  • Getting a new haircut
  • Talking to a friend I haven’t talked to in a year
  • Talking to a new friend that I practically never talked to
  • Putting furniture together – successfully put together a chair from IKEA as well as other items like a bed frame (with some help)
  • Learning to understand your expectations of everything and everyone – from my parents to my manager. Started with having a honest talk with my parents, and few weeks later I became more observing at work and noticed a lot of things I haven’t noticed before (like the way my manager treats other team members, helped not to take things personally).
  • Changed the music I listen to. There is something about listening a jazz music at 11pm while driving, makes all your stress and exhaustion go away.
  • New knifes – make cooking so much easier

Having said that, try making small changes to your life on a daily basis to create the kind of life you want to have, and it will reflect your ability to deal with change at work.

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