Is it easy to say No and feel certainty?

Certainty“It’s easy to say no when you feel certainty.  It’s easy to be confident when you feel certainty.”  Andrew G. Wall, The Science of No

“I act with complete certainty. But this certainty is my own.” ― Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty

“You’ve got to be sure of yourself before you can ever win a prize.”
― Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

I seem to have a few people around me who are sameness…people who are adverse to change. Unfortunately, given their language, they come across as negative. They are unaware that it’s really about fear of change. Not to mention, culturally, we don’t like change much. Yet it happens and I venture to say, always for the better.

I was challenged recently, about having certainty in my values and comfort level in imposing them. This got me thinking about times when I have felt certain and comfortable in my skin. That’s the trick, of course. Being comfortable in one’s skin. Feeling certain. Being true to my values, and knowing what they are.

A number of years ago, I was asked to chair the Canada Post Head Office United Way campaign. At the time there were over 6500 employees. There was only one person I had to answer to; a senior vice president, who wasn’t big on doing things differently. I understood him. Why would we change how things were done if they worked in the past? ‘Worked’ meaning we raised lots of money.

The problem, from my perspective was, the highest participation rate in their history was 63%, bronze level. That year happened to be an Olympic year. After meeting with the Ottawa United Way campaign chair I was challenged to bring Canada Post Head Office to gold level. That would mean a 17% increase in participation. I accepted the challenge with some depredation but I was excited at the same time. It was my first large campaign and it was important to me on many levels for it to be a success. Many people would be affected by my choices.

The senior v.p. was not keen. 17%??!!!! And to make matters even more challenging for him, I was asking that everyone, regardless of status in the company, including him, say, (whether they believed it or not), that it was a given – Gold for Canada Post Head Office. He couldn’t and wouldn’t go for the positive thinking idea – and I accepted that – from him. After all, it wasn’t about him. It was benefiting those reached through United Way. Our project team leaders and their teams, on the other hand, were 100% on board. The message throughout the 3 month campaign, at every level, was Gold for CPCHO! And we did it! 80.1%! And we raised over $250,000 in the process, highest ever as well.

Had I been intimidated by his status as senior v.p.; had I been uncertain about my own values and goals, had I been afraid to say No to him, sure – we would have still raised lots of money.  The extra 17% participation; the incredible positive impact on morale; and the extra dollars raised, benefiting so many? Well – enough said…

So, my question to you is, what does it take for you to have that sense of certainty, to be true to your values, to impose them on others, to have influence? What would stop you? Why?


*photo courtesy of s pants on flicker

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