“Make it easy to say yes”

Many years ago, I was having breakfast with one of my very best mentors and I was sharing some of my frustrations with a few things I was trying to accomplish.  He stopped me by telling me it was no one’s job but my own to make it easy for others to say yes.  He explained further that if I have not done all the homework required to build a case that would be easy to say yes to, it is my fault if something important is not moving forward.   He also talked about the importance of understanding your audience, the data they need to make decisions, their personality and how they should be approached, etc..  I took this advice to heart and created my own litmus test:  If I could not say yes myself and live with the consequences, it was not ready to be presented to anyone else as a new project, growth opportunity, or solution to a problem.

This level of self-awareness requires a high level of discipline, patience, creativity, and thoroughness.   Not doing it is what the overwhelming majority of people practice, and they even get upset when they present ideas that do not get acted on.  This is because they have yet to understand/accept that they have to make it easy to say yes, which means doing more before presenting.  An idea is just an idea, whereas a solution/plan is a validated idea that others can say yes to, and that can actually become something meaningful.

This concept can absolutely help anyone if they can grasp its meaning:  A sales person’s job is getting others to say yes, and the best are great at just that (because they understand the “if it is to be, it is up to me” concept); The child that wants a parent to approve something, will not achieve that by just saying “because I want to”; The business unit manager that needs approval on spending additional funds to help move a project forward or hire additional people;  and me for example……..I report to a Board of Directors.  I realize that it is pointless to address anything with them until it is truly ready.  If it is a problem, I will have that to present it along with the recommended solution.  If it is a new product/service idea, I will have that with the appropriate business plan to present.  It is not their job to come up with the plan, solution, product, or service.   This is my burden and my acceptance of it makes it one of my best assets.  It is their job to poke holes in a sound plan and/or to offer ideas that may enhance it.

It does not really matter what the problem or opportunity is; if it is our job to make it happen, then it is our job to do it the right way and not expect others to piece together the puzzle or react to our half-baked ideas with the real solution.   We have to practice this, and we should encourage anyone that has to seek our approval to do the same.  The reality is that others that we may seek a yes from, have their own goals, initiatives, and daily tasks to deal with.  Therefore, common sense should tell us that they will not be able to quickly process what we are seeking approval for, unless we have done the work to make it easy for them.