The Power of Yes

Posted on February 27, 2019

Bob the Builder says "YES WE CAN"

What I’m watching: Into the Spiderverse (worth the hype, imo)

What I’m  reading:  Andrew Kleine’s book “City on the Line(join the club)

What I’m listening to: Maynard Ferguson

Can we find time to meet?

Do you have a minute?

Do you have bandwidth for…?

Can you join this interview panel?

Do you think you could attend this meeting?


Some of you are probably cringing internally (or VERY externally) as you read through this list of questions that are speckled throughout our work week almost as frequently as comments about how badly you need a cup of coffee. Local government professionals are becoming increasingly busy with the swelling demands from communities that are progressively looking to local governments for solutions on a myriad of complex issues.

While some of the most amazingly dedicated and passionate individuals work in local government, we can become overburdened with heavy workloads and become stuck in what feels like the endless daily grind.

As the average local gov professional has felt the stress of feeling too busy too often, we have turned to time management strategies that often site the word “no” as your key to success. However, I have found myself challenging the notion that no is always the answer to all of your problems.

The answer “yes” could help us break out of our comfort zones and that feeling of being stuck in a perpetual loop of the daily grind, helping refresh our perspectives on work by reconnecting us with our organizations.

When I ponder this notion that “no” empowers us to say “yes” it makes sense when helping us avoid burnout or becoming a “people pleaser.” But when you clutch your “yeses” so tightly to your chest, you miss opportunities that can engage you with those around you and expose you to new information and experiences. You can close yourself off to opportunities that are often optional to you, but critically important to one of your colleagues. We all have received the desperate call for volunteers to attend an event or to sit in on an interview panel. While it is easy to say “no, I’ve got a lot on my plate right now” or easier yet to never reply, you lose the opportunity to support your team and learn something new for yourself.

As a young professional in the field, nothing has empowered me more than the simple “yes.”

I am more likely to be able to answer a question with “yes, I’ve interacted with that project before” or “yes, I’ve had experience in that” or even “yes, I’ve met them” due to the wide breath of experience the word yes has afforded me (picture: me waist deep in a river clearing out beaver dams).

From the experiences to the people I’ve been connected with, I have always found value in the answer yes, even if that value is finding out I might not be volunteering for that particular experience again.

So later today, when you are asked to do something, take a moment to consider the answer “yes” again. You just might introduce yourself to a new opportunity, discover a new skill, or find a new interest.

Today’s post is by Lindsay Jacques, ICMA Local Government Management Fellow with the City of Hillsboro, OR.

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