Updated: Oct 26, 2019

There's a lot of talk in the coaching profession around, "If it's not a HELL YES, it's a no."

This is often in the context of hiring a coach, paying for coaching, taking a specific job, leaving a specific job, choosing a profession, deciding to get married or unmarried, deciding to have a child or not have a child … the seemingly large decisions in life.

There seems to be this message of IT HAS to be HUGE and BIG and LOUD and INTENSELY YES for it to be a "true" yes.

I'm putting something radical on the table.

I disagree.

Not accurate, and not required in my experience.

And .. .possibly not even helpful.

It's become a thing, having our yeses be HUGE and LOUD—making this a requirement, a prerequisite to saying yes to something.

I call BS on this (a gentle, firm non-aggressive BS).

I'm taking a stand for a different yes.

A simple yes.

A quiet yes.

Dare I say—a nervous yes.

HELL no to the HELL YES?

I spent time reflecting on this and here's what I found. The most important decisions in my life have NOT been "HELL YESES."

Being with and choosing to marry my husband of 23 years was neither a hell yes nor was it an emphatic yes, like the one my beloved best friend and business partner, Michelle Bauman, gave to her husband Scott's proposal.

My yes was pretty quiet and simple. It was abundantly clear because of a voice I heard inside—and it is, hands down, one of the very best decisions I have made.

Choosing to apply to the University of Santa Monica and earn a Master's degree in Spiritual Psychology was the furthest thing from a "HELL YES." It was a nervous, doubting yes. It was a "I don't know if this is a good idea. Maybe this place is a bizarre cult and something inside is saying a ‘do it' yes." Again, it was one of the very best and most important decisions I have ever made. The same for deciding to work at USM two years later—a nervous, "What if I find out this place is a #@x! show behind the scenes and I have to find out yes." This was one of the most precious, positive decisions of my professional life, a decision that led me to speaking, facilitating, and the profession of coaching.

Hiring Steve Chandler as my coach? It was, "I'm nervous and I think this guy can help me yes." If I had required a HELL YES of myself (like so many people are looking for now), I'd be living a different life, and it's likely I wouldn't have hired him.

Michelle Bauman—our whole relationship and working partnership with her was a fun, not knowing yes. It was a “Yes, let's spend time together … and see." Michelle would say to people that she had no idea if we could make money together and that on paper the decision looked pretty BAD (why would I give half the money to Carolyn?). For Michelle, it was a yes in her heart, no HELL, and no smashing cymbals.

Teaching at the University of Santa Monica? Developing the Soul-Centered Professional Coaching Program with Steve Chandler, Drs. Ron and Mary Hulnick, and Michelle?

A new level of terrified and certain yes. For Michelle? A "I'm not so sure, text Carolyn in the middle of the night questioning the yes, yes."

Helping Michelle through her illness and then her passing? A terrified and absolute solemn yes tinged with deep despair.

Then there's one of the most significant of my entire life—deciding to lean into getting pregnant, not knowing the outcome, not sure I wanted it, and not sure I didn't want it.

This was a deep, certain, freaked out, WTF am I thinking, this is important, and this is yes. My daughter, my amazing daughter, was the magnificent result, despite my sacred ambivalence.

There you have it.

Every key decision in my life thus far has really not been a HELL YES.

Quiet certainty yes. Disturbing, nervous, flipped out yes. Fun yes. WTF yes. Inner guidance yes.


Are you in?

The HELL YES conversation and requirement can shift. Your yes is yours. Quiet, loud, nervous, certain, intense, prayerful, big, small—it's yours.

Maybe the "it's a hell yes or it's no" is more of an ego thing—a brash, pumped-up state we think we need to make the yes feel "good" or "right" or more certain.

My best yeses so far were not brash or big. They were real, and they were my yeses.

A simple yes, a nervous yes, a quiet, slow yes and a laughter-filled, shaky, heart-centered yes is good enough for me.

Oh, one other. Deciding to start a school for coaches. This was a "Really? Me? Can I stand forward and say this and do this yes?"


Are you in?

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