The ‘Hell, Yeah!’ Rule

So often, we’re trained from an early age to say ‘yes’ to things in life – yes to new opportunities, yes to new relationships, and so on. We’re taught to be open to new things, to grow and become better by saying yes. And in the workplace, we’re told, saying ‘yes’ means that you have a team-player mentality, a willingness to take on new work and help the business.

But that’s only half of the story. And while it’s a good idea to keep an open mind, and be open to new things, at some point you have to focus on what’s important to you. And that means, at some point, saying ‘no’.

Tim Ferriss talks about this concept in Tools of Titans, and the value in saying no to the ‘right’ things. This is because, as you move down your path in life and career, you’ll find that there are more opportunities than you can possibly take advantage of, more than you will ever have time for – in other words, instead of not getting any opportunities, you’re flooded with potential projects or investments or whatever – but you can’t commit to all of them. And if you try, you quickly find yourself neck-deep in work that’s keeping you busy, but also preventing you from doing the work that really matters to you.

Introducing The ‘Hell, Yeah!’ Rule

One of the techniques mentioned in the book is the ‘Hell Yeah!’ rule. The Hell, Yeah rule was developed by author and entrepreneur Derek Sivers, who uses it as a guideline to decide whether or not to engage in a project.

It’s a pretty simple rule – essentially, when Sivers is presented with a new potential opportunity, he either says “Hell, Yeah!!” to that opportunity, or he doesn’t do it at all.

In other words, if the opportunity doesn’t seem like such a no-brainer, obviously viable, and inspiring project, he walks away.

The idea, of course, is that you only come across a few “Hell,Yeah!” ideas in the course of your career and life – but those are the opportunities that move the needle in your life, the ones that truly change things in a fundamental way.

And they’re usually the opportunities that take real work – otherwise, everyone would be doing them. Which is where the “Hell, Yeah!” rule also shines – it’s doesn’t just highlight the opportunities that you should be working on, it also helps you to turn down opportunities that might be a valid use of your time, but aren’t the best use of your time. Taking this approach let’s you focus on the few really important projects, instead of drowning in a sea of mediocre work.

Of course, when you’re first starting out, you’re more likely to take what you can get – everybody has to start somewhere, and early success often comes from trying a bunch of different things. But eventually, as you start working on more projects, you’ll need to keep your focus to keep that momentum.

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