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"Yes, if…not No, because" – Anonymous

301st Fighter Wing Shield

301st Fighter Wing Shield


 A group of frogs were traveling through the forest when two of them fell into a deep pit. When the other frogs saw how deep the pit was, they told the two frogs that there was no hope left for them. “Just give up”, they said. The two frogs ignored their words and proceeded to try to jump out of the pit. However, despite their initial efforts, the group of frogs at the top of the pit were still saying that they should just give up as they’d never make it out. Eventually, one of the frogs took heed and he gave up, sinking deeper and deeper and onto his death. The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the group of frogs yelled at him to stop and let the inevitable happen. But he pressed; he continued and jumped even harder and finally made it to the top. The frogs at the top were baffled; “Did you not hear us?” The frog explained to them that he was mostly deaf and that he thought they were encouraging him the entire time and he didn’t want to let them down.

I recall a professional military education course years ago where we joked that words mean things. It’s a funny notion and obvious play on words, but what we say and how we say it can make a world of difference in our organizations. As leaders, we are charged to inspire and motivate.  Your words can have a huge impact on the lives and careers of others. When someone brings you an idea, and you instantly say “No, because” it not only kills their idea but kills their innovative spirit, and can impede the relationship.  By answering “Yes, if” you acknowledge their idea and can then provide the latitude, vector, and motivation for them to see it through to fruition.

Be cognizant of your words and let’s get to yes. Unless something is illegal or egregious, let’s get after it!