There’s a piece of commonly shared advice that tells us not to say yes to something unless we can say “hell yeah!” to it.
On the surface, this seems to make sense. It's meant to protect us from making passionless decisions that leave us frazzled and overcommitted.
The problem with only saying yes if we mean “Hell yeah!” is that we begin to view everything through a narrow, selfish lens.
Real life is full of compromise, give and take, and valuing people over an idea. Sometimes things won’t go 100% our way and we need to be there for others regardless. We need to say yes – not all the time, and I'm still an advocate of the joy of missing out – but if we want to truly enjoy life, we need to support others and say yes to things that we may not be 100% on fire for.
Jeff Bezos and the leadership at Amazon often talk about a practice they have called “disagree and commit.” In his 2016 letter to shareholders, Bezos says that on a certain project he wanted to go one direction while members of his team wanted to go another. He replied, “I disagree but commit,” giving them the green light to go ahead. This wasn’t a “Hell yes,” but it was a yes and it was loyal support of his team.
Not every “Yes” needs to be a “Hell yeah!” in order to be worth your time. Not every "Yes" needs to be a "Hell yeah!" in order to show loyalty. More of us would be better off adopting a “disagree and commit” mentality instead – and allowing the colleagues we work with to do the same.
Originally published April 2017