Make the decision to define your yes


Last week I wrote about the power to say No and I got so many emails pouring in to me in the course of the week about the article and I realised it is really a big problem. People do have a challenge saying no.

I stated that I am able to say no only because I have said yes to something else. I am able to say no to hanging out on a Friday night with friends only because I have said yes to spending time with my family. When the yes is strong enough the no becomes easy enough. The problem is that we are not saying strong enough yeses and so we also cannot say strong Nos.

The person who dabbles into corruption did so and was not able to say no because they did not say yes to an unblemished legacy. They did not say yes to being able to hold their head upright anyplace, anytime. The Nigerian president Buhari once said that he had never taken a shilling from the public coffers when he was a military head of state or minister in charge of petroleum.

He dared other past Nigerian leaders to come out and say the same thing and of course no one came out. Now compare his story with the allegations now levelled against the immediate past petroleum minister. It is said that she offered the Buhari administration a refund of two hundred and fifty million dollars in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Of course her offer was rejected because she is alleged to have made away with a few billion dollars. Why wasn’t such a person able to say no? Because they had not said yes to lifting their heads up in their old age.


You need to define your yes very clearly or you will struggle with saying no. Some friends of mine from the Rotary Club of Nairobi East recently embarked on an adventure to the top of Africa. They initiated a charity climb of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Their stories have inspired me so much and I think all Kenya should hear them. The team included the young, the middle aged, corporate executives, the sixty year old Chairman of a multinational and a seventy five year old man – all headed to the top of Africa.

When I asked what kept them going for four days till they got to the Uhuru peak, I learnt that it was all about the yes they had said. They had said a yes to getting to the top come what may and so they were able to say no to the suggestions made by their pain or their fears. The truth is that pain, fear and even the comfort of the present will always offer suggestions for an easier way but only those who have said yes to get to the top will have the capacity to say no to these suggestions.

There was the story of a gentleman who was commissioned to take his company’s flag to Uhuru peak. He however got very sick and collapsed on the way and the rest of the team decided it would be better for them to go on without him.

When he came round he asked where his colleagues were and when he was told that they had gone on, he got up and continued. He said he had been given a task to put the flag at the peak and he had said yes to it so he had to go! Off he went with his guides helping him and finally this man who had been very sick and who had collapsed earlier on made it with pride and dignity to the top.

Friends, what determines where you get to is not the obstacle on the way, it is not the height of the mountain or the difficulties involved in getting there. What determines where you get to is the strength of your yes. Your attitude will determine your altitude.

This is true for climbing Kilimanjaro and it is true for climbing the ladder of success. Only those bold enough to say a resounding yes in the face of the obstacles will ever be able to say an equally resounding no to the suggestions made by pain, fear and the comfort of the present. What say you today?