Saying yes to myself fills the page with words and my world with opportunities. Saying no stops progress. Saying no is necessary when too much is going on, but saying no out of humility is a luxury. Yes is an affirmation, and sometimes yes is a necessary step that moves someone from a comfortable rut and into an uncertain but hopefully improved situation. I’m learning to say yes.
I hesitated as I started to write this post. It may sound silly or contrived but the sentences in that first paragraph that included the word yes flowed and the sentences that included the word no took longer to write. My original mental sketch of the post changed after writing one paragraph because I was aware of the immediacy of my response. No wonder (and oddly enough there’s a hesitancy again) no wonder some people find themselves stymied as they try to progress by considering each possibility with how it will fail to meet expectations instead of how it will succeed.
Lately I’ve found myself lining up new types of classes. Each is an extension of an existing class or an ongoing energetic conversation. Half of the new classes are the result of someone turning to me and asking, “So, Tom, would you teach that class?“. I’ve said yes. Details to follow, both for this blog, but also within my head.
Modern Self-Publishing – I’ve talked about it before, and each time I teach it something has changed since the last time, even if the previous session was only a month ago. I always handed out class notes: handouts xeroxed and stapled. Blurb.com offered a new type of paperback printing process, so I tested it by converting the handouts into a bound pamphlet. One of the attendees pointed out that their friend in Boston wished she could’ve taken the class, could I send her a copy of the handouts? Well, yes! There’s an online version, for a small nominal fee. Then I quickly went home and clicked the right buttons on the web site to make the book public and profitable.
There’s another yes there. Inspiration followed, and now I’ve expanded it from a pamphlet into a book form by including my narrative beside each slide. (Email me for details. email@example.com)
Art & Photo Book Making – A good friend (Joe Menth from Fine Balance Imaging) helped put together my photo essay books, knew about my self-publishing classes, and taking two positives we’ve made another class – Art & Photo Book Making. The first half will be Joe talking about how to make the book: properly formatting the images, collecting the requisite text, working in and around the restriction. I’ll teach the second half, the what to do with your product, by talking from the point of view of a self-publisher: the art and photo book as gift, portable portfolio, or item to sell.
People learned that I knew something about writing, photography, and publishing, so I received an unsolicited request to teach a class that pulled all of those elements together for one group’s special needs.
How to Prepare, Write and Publish a Family History – First an unexpected email, than a phone call, all without knowing the details but always with a cautious yes. When they mentioned they were willing to pay for my time the yes became less cautious and more enthusiastic. I’d actually said yes in my head, even if the arrangements fell through, because they’d inspired new avenues for me to travel. Anyone interested in self-publishing for a writers’ group, travel enthusiasts, business seminars?
Seemingly separately at a meeting of the artists that will be on the Whidbey Island Open Studio Tour, the topic of social media came up. I mentioned my use of blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and now Google+. A few curious heads turned my way and asked if I would teach a class about that.
Social Media for Artists – in negotiations, because I said yes, but I wanted to include a local expert to add to my pragmatic perspective. Russell Sparkman of The Center For New Media will teach half. I’ll teach half. Stay tuned for what that means and when it will happen.
Saying yes at so many junctures has resulted in a fuller and funner life. Saying yes has also become a practice and a habit that makes me more aware of the questions and requests that I overlooked before. Life looks busy and more is approaching.
I know people who deeply understand subjects and skills to the point that they aren’t conscious of their unique ability. To their eyes, everyone should be able to understand how to dance, or how to repair a computer, or how to decorate, or how to listen, or how to laugh. One of my favorites is a friend who understands computers so well that he knows when it is easier to rebuild the hardware instead of tinkering with the software. A blue screen of death on a Friday can result in a rebuilt, updated and upgraded computer by Monday. Why doesn’t everyone do that? Dude. We few of us are as smart as you, particularly in that field.
Acting as if everyone knows as much as you is honorable humility. It places everyone on an equal level without a hint of ego. It also denies gifts to the rest of us. It can be comfortable saying, oh no, no one needs to hear what I have to say. But I’ll return to my most posted Will Rogers paraphrased quote, “You know everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.” If my ignorance and curiosity matches your skill and expertise enough that I ask for your help don’t be too humble; don’t assume I am merely being polite. Learn to say yes and share your gift, probably for a nominal fee of course.