The YES-HOW Principle

One of the most fundamental leadership lessons I ever learned was the Yes – How Principle.  There I was, years ago, an up and coming manager at McDonald’s pressing on one of my leaders that we could be better, accomplish more, perform at a higher level.  I had that same passion and high expectations back then, I was just a lot rougher around the edges in my leadership.  I was crossing the line with him… one of my greatest mentors ever, and he explained something to me that has forever shaped my leadership, my mindset, my parenting, and my husband skills.  He explained that there are two kinds of people in the world, the YES-HOW people, and the NO-WHY people.  The YES-HOW people would hear a new idea, solution, mandate, standard, urgent need, etc and automatically respond with a form of “YES” and immediately go to:

  • “Here’s how I think we can get it done.”
  • “I’m ready to learn how.”
  • “How have others made this happen?”
  • “How can we get that implemented right away?”
  • “I’m not sure I even know how to do that, yet I’m ready to go for it.”

The NO-WHY people automatically respond with a version of “NO” and go to:

  • “That won’t work because…”
  • “Here’s why that’s a bad idea…”
  • “Here’s why I can’t get that done…”
  • “I’m too busy, don’t know how, why why why why…”

At the time, unfortunately, he was explaining it to me because I was a NO-WHY person and decided to switch teams.  Now, as a rule, in our organizations, we only subscribe to YES-HOW.  It works in all things, even the difficult ones.  Someone outside of my 20% wants a meeting?  Yes, here’s how… in 3 months, or after you take this class, or after you achieve this milestone, or after my 20% is done, or here’s how to be in the inner 20% circle, whatever.  My son wants a toy at the store?  Yes, here’s how… save up and buy it with your money.  Would you like to learn how to make some money? I read somewhere that kids hear 6 NO’s from their parents for every YES and that’s why they grow up to stop dreaming and believe they won’t be able to take risks or accomplish certain things.  I’ve decided to keep my kids’ brains defaulting to YES and HOW as they enter the world.  I believe it will take them far and it can do the same for the people around you in leadership.  Every time you hear yourself saying “NO” figure out how you could’ve done a YES-HOW and see how much that opens the possibilities for the people around you.  

Published by sethcampbell2

Real Estate Broker

26 thoughts on “The YES-HOW Principle

  1. This is profound!! I am a YES person with no standards or boundaries at times. This gives me greater insight on being comfortable at saying YES, however being intentional with my How. The how has to be Purposeful and align with my timeframe… love it… Thanks Seth.. India

  2. Love this article. Sometimes I’m straddling the fence between “teams.” Be interested in the sequence you went through to switch teams. What did you intentionally do daily to reprogram?

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