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What if you were to say ‘yes’?

My favorite expression in French is ‘pourquoi pas’ – literally translated to ‘why not’. If I think about all the times in my life, I convinced myself not to do something. Why that exercise class will be too scary and I don’t have enough energy to do it. Why I have to wait to be fit enough or talented enough to do that new hobby or apply for that opportunity. I’m not good enough, hot enough, clever enough, strong enough, confident enough, experienced enough, qualified enough. Gawd the list of excuses is never ending. You know what that is? Self sabotage.

I am fortunate enough to have traveled around the globe. Both professionally and personally. Because I was born with a silver spoon and everything was handed to me? Absolutely not. Of course, I have been born to privilege. To a family who raised me within housing and sacrificed to provide me a phenomenal education. But I’ve been scrappy (like the mini Doo) and fought hard to win my crown as the black sheep. I’ve simply taken every opportunity to get on a plane. My international experience has given me a broad perspective on life and culture. A view that there are infinite possibilities on creativity, problem solving, happiness and ways to live.

I had never really thought about being lucky. In fact if you had asked me In my 20s, I would’ve said I was very far from lucky. I realised later my life had unfolded the way it had because I knew I wanted a life less ordinary and I had said ‘yes’. The first job I had as a graduate, was literally because I said yes to having a conversation with someone. To shadowing someone. My first business trip (to Tokyo no less) was because I said yes to taking on more responsibility aged 21 working on a project that felt bigger than Vesuvius.

There’s a concept which we’re probably more familiar with as ‘sliding doors’, based on the Gwyneth Paltrow Movie which shows literally how you can live an entirely different life based off one decision or incident. Those of us who are more dogmatic will know the term as the butterfly effect, a set of dominos that fall in a direction based on one small change.

I have seen the direct effects of my decisions and actions, earlier the big ones and now the small ones. I know because I’m conscious of them. I know because I decided to take responsibility for life a few years ago and stop blaming everyone and everything else. It took a real dose of therapy and maturity to swallow the giant pill of responsibility and accept that everything we do in life is a choice. Everything that comes in is something we attract. Of course many times we believe we have no choice and are backed into a corner, however it’s still a choice based on our values system. And it’s something we should stand by because from there we’re reminded of our free will. It’s actually much easier to make the best of life when we view things from this lens.

Any role model that you look up-to will tell you about a pivotal moment in their life, when someone gave them a chance, a job, a conversation, a number. Some will humbly say that they were just lucky. The reality however is that whilst the opportunity might have presented itself, they decided to take it. They decided to apply for a mentor, be brave enough to say they wanted more responsibility or that they were looking for a new opportunity.

Every single day that we live, is made up of 100s of choices. What time we wake up, what we eat, how long we brush our teeth for, whether we practice gratitude, actually enjoying our coffee, how we present ourself to the world, whether we exercise and how many excuses we allow ourselves to make. Of course there are things we cannot control like the global economy or our employer going out of business. However the way we react to that is something within our control. One of my favorite quotes is:

‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’

Reinhold Niebuhr

The reality though, is that so much remains in our control. Whether we live a life that we respect and will look back upon with glee is up to us. The difference is that one is a path that we fall into, the one of ‘relative ease’, pre-defined and expected, with some misery and many ‘what ifs’. In this version people tell themselves that this is simply what life is. The other has rough terrain and sometimes you slip and fall (hard), but the views along the way are phenomenal. In this version you challenge the status quo, jump off buildings (figuratively and perhaps sometimes literally), say ‘yes’ to crazy things and live extraordinarily.

Some are built for the expected life path and would be terrified to do the extraordinary. Some of us are wired the other way and have a physical convulsion in response to the white picket fence life. Let’s at least be self-aware, brave enough to admit it and stop judging the other side.

So many people tell me I’m ‘lucky’ to have the experiences I do, and live the life I do. My answer is always simple – I’m not ‘lucky‘ I’m ‘brave‘. We all keep asking for freedom but when actually presented with it we don’t actually have the balls to grab the bull by the horns.


Ayesha Sodha

Entrepreneur & Transformational Coach