I like when people say, “No.”

If I’m looking for an event speaker, a potential new partner organization, or an industry connection, I’m grateful for those who say, “No” to my requests.

I’m grateful for those who say no to speaking opportunities.

I’m grateful to those who say no to meeting requests.

I’m grateful to those who say no when they are asked to support various projects.

Why?

When I’m met with a “no” of any kind, it means I have an opportunity for growth. “No” responses teach me there is something I don’t know. I can learn why somebody said no. I can question my assumptions that led me to believe they might say yes. My ability to gage a future response is enhanced with each and every no.

As Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has said, “Sometimes the shots just don’t fall.” For the readers who are not basketball fans, this means that no matter how perfectly positioned a player is to the basket, no matter how perfectly angled or perfectly shot the ball was, it may not fall into the hoop. It may bounce off the rim. It may almost roll in, then pop back out. Some missed shots you can’t explain simply. When the shots don’t fall, you do what you can to make up for it. You clean up your passes. You defend well. And you pay more attention to the game moving forward.

Likewise, when trying to create something (an event, support for a nonprofit, a new industry relationship), sometimes your shot doesn’t fall where you want it to. So, you do what you can to communicate more effectively with your team. You stay organized in your work. You control what you can, which at the very least is your attitude about whatever “no” you received that day. You start to listen more actively, and you pause before taking another shot.

And then, you try again.

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