Start at Yes

Start at Yes/No

Are you someone who starts at Yes, or starts at No? I think it’s a fundamental question that will help you understand how you look at the world. I have to admit for much of my life I started at no. Could I start a new business? Can I buy that? Can I go on that trip? You name it I would start at no. I would talk myself out of things until I sold myself on yes.   

That has completely transformed in the last few years. It started with the decision to leave a very comfortable and good paying job to start 3 Bridges Consulting. The old me would have come up with 100 reasons why I couldn’t do it. But two years ago I decided to start at yes and figure out how I could do it. I still knew I couldn’t do it alone and probably would have sold myself on no had I not found a dynamic partner to start on the journey.   

Two years later, we are a thriving company with clients from all over the country and have built a full-service consulting firm that is making a real difference for the businesses we work with. I am certainly proud of that. But I am also proud of the fact that learning to start at yes has transformed my life. I now start by figuring out how I can do things and not how I can’t.    

Dennis Williams, co-founder of 3 Bridges Consulting, with ocean in the background.

Here’s the latest example. Back in the heart of the pandemic in March and April, I started to look at the rest of the year. Looking ahead to November and December, I decided I would be with my family on the East Coast for the Holidays, but what would I do for the 3 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Should I fly back to CA and then back East? Then I had the idea that I would visit one of my favorite places in the world: St John on the U.S Virgin Islands. I decided to stay there for the 3 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.   

I realized working remotely on an island like St John would be a challenge. There were more than 100 reasons why I shouldn’t do it, and the old version of me would have started at no and there is no chance I would have ever gotten to yes. But instead I figured it out. It certainly helped that this was already the year of working remotely and clients and businesses were used to this. I had some fun Zoom calls with a background that certainly made people jealous, but I pulled it off.   

The entire experience taught me a lot. I called it getting “reps.” I got plenty of “reps” working in a remote area with a lot of distractions. The lessons I learned are that you can work in streaks, mostly because I was working in 5 different time zones. The days included work in the morning, a break for (the beach, hike or workout), back to more work, dinner, and then wind down with a little more work to check in with the West Coast. It even included waking up in the middle of the night and responding to a few emails or writing down ideas for the next day.

Group of friends sitting on a boat with water behind.

This experience helped me master the art of remote working, but the most important thing I learned was to not pass up the opportunity to make memories with the people I love. If I had not said yes to this experience, I would not have the memories I have with the family that was there with me for the first part of the trip. I would not have introduced my daughters to the island and given them an experience they will never forget. Some of my closest cousins were there, along with my father. All of us creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Also if I had not said yes, I wouldn’t know any of the dozen or so strangers I met, who became friends. Like Jimmy from Jimmy’s Frozen Custard (a well known Detroit area business that’s been around for decades).

Or Damia from NYC, who is literally the waitress, bartender and bouncer at one of the most well-known bars in St. John called Woody’s. If you could ever get her off that island she could make millions selling anything to anyone with her dynamic personality and toughness.  But why would you leave St. John?

A drink in a cup sitting at the bar called Drink.

Or Mark Rockefeller from South Carolina, who bought a bar named Drink after the hurricanes hit the island, rebuilt it and has 3 of his kids running it. We actually helped this bar develop a drink, and we named it the “Flight Changer.” It’s a new spin on a rum punch, and the idea is that everyone who goes to this bar ends up changing their flight to stay longer. I guess you could say it makes you start at yes. 

I also started at yes with a new project on St John, that you’ll be hearing about in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned!

I share this because after a year like 2020, I think it’s important that we all take time to reflect on this one fundamental question. Do you start at no? Or do you start at yes? I think we have all been reminded this year how precious life is and that tomorrow is not promised.  Maybe it’s a New Year’s resolution. Start at yes and see where it takes you. Maybe it gives you an experience you never had, or the dream job you’ve been waiting for, or brings a joy to your life that you’ve never known. 

Happy New Year from all of us at 3 Bridges Consulting.

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