Lessons from Dad: “Don’t say no to yourself”

Ray Newman.JPGWhen I didn’t think I would get into a top conservatory, my dad encouraged me to apply. “Don’t say no to yourself,” he said. 

When I was afraid to ask a friend a big favor, my dad told me to try. “Don’t say no to yourself,” he said.

When I didn’t think I would get a writing job…you get the idea.

Among the nuggets of wisdom that my eccentric, intellectual, lovable father has passed down to me, this is one I find myself coming back to again and again. I’ve been known to offer this advice to others, even as I strive to consistently put it into practice in my own life.

In popular culture, this advice usually goes by the name of “Ask for what you want.” But “don’t say no to yourself” goes beyond that, encapsulating the what to do and the why to do it all in one phrase. Don’t say no to yourself, because there are plenty of other people who will gladly say no to you. Don’t say not to yourself, because if you say no to yourself, who do you expect to say yes?

My dad followed his own advice in 1979: he walked into a radio station in New York, asked for his own radio show, and got one. At the time, his qualifications consisted of 20 years of being a lawyer, not exactly relevant to the broadcasting field. He got a job that became a passion, a job that he still reminisces fondly about today.

If you think of the whole big range of possibilities available to you in the world, saying no to yourself just closes off avenues that may lead to your happiness. So say yes to yourself, and at least you’ll know you’ve done everything you can to get where you want to go.

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2 thoughts on “Lessons from Dad: “Don’t say no to yourself”

  1. Great advice from your Dad! I never knew he had a radio show. A talk show? I’d love to hear more about it. (I worked in radio pre-children.)

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