This week’s article is by Lou Zenteno and Jim Ritchie-Dunham. It is a companion to Jim’s interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The Science Behind Our Yes! that aired on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021.
The evidence is clear. When we start with a Yes!, we are far more productive, creative, and engaged. When we start with a No!, we are far less productive, creative, and engaged. The evidence is in social media everywhere, in our work with 1,000s of groups in 43 countries, in our teaching at leading universities, and in our survey research with over 100,000 responses in 125 countries.
Along with the recent shake-up of the world as we knew it, brought on by the pandemic, comes the opportunity to self-assess where we are putting our energy in our day-to-day activities. While this isn’t new, the changes and uncertainty we have experienced, both firsthand and through our groups, have created a more obvious space to reflect on it. We have new situations that require new daily decisions.
If we make 35,000 choices per day, or 2 per second, 99% of them are taken unconsciously . It is in this unseen space where we have the opportunity to find our real Yes! We can avoid running on autopilot, shifting from reacting blindly to being consciously aware.
Choosing our Yes! is an acceptance; affirmation and confirmation of our human creativity. It is an acceptance of ourselves that enables us to access what we hold true. It is an affirmation of our capacity to choose, through our will, where we want to direct our attention and intention. It entails the affirmation of other agreements that are intrinsically connected. And perhaps, most importantly, it is the confirmation to the external world of where we are choosing to channel our energy. This shows how we enter into our relationship with the world.
As leaders, you might be thinking, “How can I ‘know’ this for myself?” Easy! You know this. You are constantly receiving feedback about your choices through your experiences. Our work with leaders shows that there is a common denominator–you know when you are resonating in your Yes!, when you are engaged in creative flow, in synergistic collaboration within a group, reaching high impact together. You also know when your efforts, your attention, and your intention, are not aligned with your Yes!, when you accepting a No.
While easier said than done, the truth is that not choosing your Yes! has huge implications. Falling asleep, not being aware of where you are making your choices from, the perspectives and agreements you are accepting unconsciously are dangerous, expensive, and very inefficient. It’s not only ineffective for organizations, it is also an energy-draining experience for you and your colleagues. Companies are struggling today to get the talent they need. They are having trouble finding accountability, creativity, and self-initiative in their collaborators . It is easier to attract talent to highly engaging, creative, productive experiences than to disengaging, improductive experiences.
It is your decision. You can choose and shift your agreements. You can align with your Yes! Groups with a deeper Yes!, a deeper shared purpose, have more healthy interactions, far greater outcomes, and achieve much more impact. This has been shown to be true in fieldwork from the Institute for Strategic Clarity (ISC) with over 1,000 groups in 43 countries, surveys with over 100,000 responses in 125 countries, and our research network including the ISC, Harvard, Oxford, UCT, EGADE, and Boston College.
So finally, something to reflect on: What gets your Yes!? Where are you giving your creativity? For the love of what future do you give your will? This creative contribution, which is unique to you, is yours to give. Yours to engage. We invite you into daily practice, asking yourself, “Is this a Yes! for me?” If it is not, then, “Am I accepting a No?” “Can I shift this to a Yes!?” You can also ask this within a group. Is this the Yes! that we want? Are we happy with how this is going? Is this engaging us? Is this bringing our best creativity? Can we shift it to a Yes!? If we can’t, can we still accept this No, even when knowing this is not our Yes!? What is the cost of staying engaged with a No? Why would we stay?
Here is your easy cost-benefit analysis. What is the cost of you Yes! and the cost of your No? When you accept the No, you give up value creation and impact towards the business’ purpose. Value and impact that can be derived by choosing our Yes!
In the end, it is your choice. Your choice to collapse and accept your No, or engage your Yes!
You can find out more about the work with organizations, the free Agreements Health Check survey, and our research at isclarity.org, where you can also contact us to connect to our network for a full assessment of your organization.
Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible, iHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.
About the Authors
Jim Ritchie-Dunham is president of the Institute for Strategic Clarity, affiliated with Boston College, Harvard, EGADE Business School, and UPMadrid, co-author of Ecosynomics (2014) & Managing from Clarity (2001). He blogs regularly at jlrd.me. He has a BSPE (UTulsa), MIM (Thunderbird), MBA (ESADE), and PhD Decision Sciences (UTAustin). Ecosynomics: The Science of Abundance shows (1) you prefer abundance-based agreements to scarcity-based ones, (2) lots of people have figured out how to live this way, for decades, with far better results and experiences, and (3) you can choose to shift your agreements, experiences, and outcomes to abundance-based. [Get the book at https://bit.ly/ecosynomicsbook.]
Lourdes Zenteno is a systems thinker, a creative integrative professional, and a purpose-driven strategist. She is trained as a Systems and Industrial Engineering with a major in Quality (Black Belt Six Sigma); holds an MBA from Grenoble Ècole de Management, France, and a M. Phil. in Ecosynomics from the Institute for Strategic Clarity, USA. She is Co-founder of ConnexAre, member of the Institute for Strategic Clarity Community and a founding member at Intergen. Her 10+ years of experience with international organizations have been mainly around socio-ecosystem design, process improvement and transformation, and collaborative processes that move individuals and groups towards flourishing.