“Yeah, Sure” Isn’t Good Enough


I live a damn fine life to be able to say that more often than not, my clients become friends. So, how did I meet today’s guest author? Well, I met his lovely wife, Maddie, first. She’s a badass for a living and we sat down and contemplated ways to amp her bad-assery to eleven (and from what I’ve seen from her lately, she said to hell with eleven and went right to thirteen. Did you hear that? Spinal Tap just became irrelevant.) Anywhoo, her husband came to me for a Buy Me Coffee session about six month later. He was ready to leave the corporate world behind and pursue his MUST. He’s now in the midst of my latest round in the GSD Mastermind and if it’s possible for me to have a couple crush, I have it on The Kertays. I see love, challenge, openess, frustration, affection, and dear all chocolate dieties in the heavens of the sweet world, they tell me that the love I’m waiting for is worth waiting for.

So without further adoo, I introduce you to Dr. Les Kertay. He’s here to talk about why “yeah, sure” is bullshit.

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As an inveterate optimist, I am starting to believe that the notion of radical consent – “yes means yes, and only yes means yes” – is making a difference in the culture. The movement has been criticized as too legalistic on the one hand and as not radical enough on the other, but all in all it seems like a good idea and about damn time. It’s not that hard really: you own your body and your space, and I get to enter that space if, and only if, you say “yes.”  Simple.

If I enter your space when you haven’t said “yes,” let alone if I enter your space with some evil notion that you really meant “yes” when you clearly said “no,” and you get to – figuratively and, if necessary, literally – kick my ass. Simple.

But I’ve been thinking that maybe we aren’t going far enough. Maybe “yes means yes” ought to apply to life.

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a friend who has a pretty good idea, and he and his partners wanted me to be a part of it. It was flattering to be invited, and they clearly were looking for talent that I could provide. Maybe, if they got their shit together and developed an actual business model (oh details, details) we could all make some money at it. I listened, and found myself thinking, “yeah, sure.”

Yeah sure. Makes sense. Sounds good. Ok. Uh-huh. Fine.

Probably because my friend called a couple of days after I bought Erika the most expensive cup of coffee in the history of ever, what happened next is that I noticed that “yeah sure” felt, well not bad exactly, but limp, bland, lame. I could picture myself working on this project half-heartedly, and so my work would be half-assed, and eventually my give-a-shit would break. Even if everyone else thought I was doing good work – and they probably would because I’m good at what I do – I would be disappointed in myself.

So instead of saying “yeah sure” I said – wait for it – “no.” I told my friend the truth, which is that they need someone committed, someone all-in, someone who could throw themselves into the project and make exciting things happen. I told him I could hear his enthusiasm and would support it any way I could, but I wasn’t the guy to help make it happen.

Even though I’m leaving corporate life and need to find projects that will provide an income, I left money on the table. I said no.

The most interesting thing was that I felt good, in fact I felt great. Saying no I felt free, solid, whole.

It struck me then that  “yeah sure” isn’t the same as “fuck yeah!” – and “fuck yeah!” is the only thing good enough.

What if life required radical consent, so radical that even “yes” wasn’t good enough? What if life required “fuck yeah!” before we invested our hearts and minds and time and money?

There are some things in my life that would stay, for sure. But there’s a lot that would go. Fast. I find myself wondering what would fill the space left behind as I cleared all the clutter.

I’m guessing that a lot of people will read this and think some nonsense about how idealistic it is, how impossible it is to live that way. How sometimes we have to do things about which it’s just not possible to say “fuck yeah!”

Taxes, dishes, and taking out the garbage come to mind.

I call bullshit. Of course it’s impossible to only do things about which we say “fuck yeah!” So what? That’s just one of those lies we tell ourselves to hold back from ever demanding more of ourselves and our lives: “Since I can’t have it all, I won’t have any.” Oh that makes sense.

So here’s an idea to try: next time you find yourself thinking “yeah sure,” take a pass. Find a positive way to say, “no thanks” and keep looking until you find your “fuck yeah!” When you find it, and only when you find it, jump on that mother and wrestle it to the ground and don’t let go for anything.

Don’t settle for “yeah sure.”

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dr-les-kertay-erika-napoletanoLes Kertay is a husband, dad, psychologist, and all around geek. He’s been in business long enough and successfully ridden the waves of change often enough to have reinvented himself a time or two, or forty, having gone from private practice to corporate leader to solopreneur consultant and coach. Nothing interests him more than this: whatever it is that you want to do or be, do it. No shortcuts, no magic, no pretend, no bullshit – just show up, dig in, and do the work it takes to be your best you. Learn more about him on his ever-evolving (and delightfully so) site at LesKertay.com.

20 replies
  1. Technoyves
    Technoyves says:

    I like this so much!  “Yeah, sure” is a recipe for mediocrity, at best, and apathy, at worst.  In fact, I have a “no” response I need to go and do right now. I’ve been leaving it on the table for a moment because I was living in “not quite sure” land and didn’t have a good method for shoving myself toward a final answer.  Now I do!

  2. JoeCardillo
    JoeCardillo says:

    Awesome. I love this.
    Also a fairly decent corollary is enthusiastic consent. Getting busy with someone who is lukewarm on the whole thing, that is just terrible, and a work project, job, or business launch is in some ways as intimate as hopping in the sack.

  3. DonModekali
    DonModekali says:

    Great post Les. They say average people say “yes” to many things in the hope of pleasing others, while on the flipside killing themselves slowly. Successful people say “no” to many things, risking displeasing others while making what makes them happy count.

    As an online entrepreneur, one of the hardest skills to master is the art of saying No, especially to friends and family.

  4. LesKertay
    LesKertay says:

    Thanks Don – it’s true. That “especially” you wrote strikes me as terribly important. You’d think it wouldn’t take 60 years to learn!

  5. LesKertay
    LesKertay says:

    Indeed. That intimacy point is huge. It strikes me that when we take on a “fuck yeah” project or business, we are really investing ourselves – and there’s nothing more intimate than that. Thanks for sharing that observation.

  6. LesKertay
    LesKertay says:

    Such music to my “ears.” This is one reason I love to write – if just one person does something different, wow. Go you!!

  7. calebsimpson
    calebsimpson says:

    I think this is a great way of looking at the typical, “learn to say no” post. You addressed the sentiments that went through our mind really well. I’ve definitely had the, “yeah sure” vibe to a project before. I actually recently turned one down, it would have essentially created work for me that would not be my own, and definitely not regretting turning it down, even though it would have solved some major cash flow problems.

  8. Technoyves
    Technoyves says:

    LesKertay Erika NapoletanoWoo!!  I did it!  I’m happy to report the following:
    1) Nothing broke
    2) The world didn’t blow up 
    3) Dogs and cats didn’t start living together (kudos to anyone who gets the reference)

  9. kkinthecity27
    kkinthecity27 says:

    I’m the queen of “yeah, sure” and that phrase is exactly what got me into my current, soul-sucking job. Very soon I’m telling that job “no” so I can find my fuck yeah!


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