Dream big, start small, and live in a world of “YES”

Predict-The-FutureDear Harlan: You recently came to my school and I saw you in my assembly. You talked a lot about a “yes place,” where negative responses do not exist. However, I am unable to visualize this place. What can I do to see it? – Yes Place

Dear Yes Place: Before I answer your question, I want to explain the exercise you’re referencing for everyone else reading this response. During my live events, I’ll have audience members participate in an activity. You can do this, too. Do it right now. Close your eyes in a moment (don’t close them now or you won’t be able to read the instructions). Imagine you live in a world where there is no such thing as the answer “no.” Whatever you hope, dream and desire is within your reach. Think about your friendships, romantic relationships, professional life, family life, financial life and how you spend your time. What do you see? How does it feel? What are the sounds? Whose face do you see? What does your world look like when you wake up? Who do you spend your time with during day? Who is sitting across the dinner table from you at night? What does your world look like when you go to sleep? Now, open your eyes. What did you see? I call this your “yes place.” What’s one thing that you saw that you want to make happen? Sometimes people will tell me they have all the money in the world. One student told me he got straight A’s simply by asking and doing no work. Even if you imagine a world where people live forever or come back to life, there is power in imagining “yes.” A student who sees better grades without doing the work can use this as the impetus to find the best and brightest students who can share their tricks and tips with him.  Having all the money in the world isn’t about the money as much as it’s about the freedom. Figure out what money represents and set your path in that direction. Wishing people are back in your life will help you find new people and places where you can feel the warmth of wisdom of those who have left you. “Yes” can be a scary place. It means having to face our fears. It means having to listen to other people’s fears. It means having to overcome failure, struggle and rejection. “Yes” is a place where hope and happiness can never be dimmed. Getting to “yes” takes practice and patience. Most of us have little of both. We live in a world where people tell us what to do. We live in other people’s “yes places.” A 16-year-old at another event told me she was having a hard time finding her “yes place.” Why? No one ever asked her what she wanted. She did what everyone told her to do. And this is why it’s so hard for you to find your “yes place.” You have never done it before. You need to practice. Life has been more about everyone else’s “yes.” Start with one thing you want to change. Make it small. Think it. Believe it. See it. Feel it. Find people who will support you. Find places where you can find connection. And be patient. It takes time. It takes practice. Start small. Dream bigger. Eventually, you will live in a world of “yes.”

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TEDx Talk: Getting Comfortable With The Uncomfortable | Harlan Cohen


In his witty and powerful talk, Harlan Cohen shares his own experience of dealing with difficult moments in college and discusses why we must all get comfortable with the uncomfortable in life. Harlan Cohen is a New York Times bestselling author, nationally syndicated advice columnist, and speaker who has visited over 400 college campuses. He is the author of six books. He is based in Chicago, Illinois.