On Being Told No

I’ll cut right to the chase: I don’t like being told no. Who does?

In my line of work I ask lots of people for lots of things. It feels like I am constantly making “asks” and this raises all sorts of anxiety for me. I fear being a burden, or annoying, or the person people dread receiving emails from (here we go again).

Recently I made an ask that had a lot of hope attached to it. I was told no. I fought for it. Still no.

I felt pretty crummy about this no. Then I read this. (Miller also talked about this at the World Domination Summit: how to find redemption in suffering/stories that don’t turn out the way we want them to).

So, in that spirit, here are four blessings that come with “no’s”.

  1. It forces me to pray more: you’d think I do most of my praying before/during/immediately after the ask. Rejection has a way of revitalizing my prayer-life like nothing else.
  2. The process of asking is clarifying: whether the answer is yes or no, the process makes me think deeply about what I am asking for, why I need it, and why it is important for whoever I am asking to be included in this effort. Asking produces clarity.
  3. No’s make me work harder: I’m not sure what this says about me, but yeses tend to produce laziness, a resting of laurels. No’s create urgency. Obviously, yeses are needed to get anything done, but a no drives up the energy levels in a more profound way.
  4. No’s produce character: I completely relate to Miller’s victim dialogue in the article on disappointment. It’s so easy to go there. In the end anything we receive when we ask is a gift. It’s so easy to take credit for a yes, to think I “earned” this. And, similarly, to blame someone for a no. But it’s all a gift. Maybe a better way of saying it is: no’s reveal character. And that can be painful, but ultimately necessary.

What do you think? What do you learn from “no’s”?


Father’s Day

I hope to post some thoughts on fatherhood this week, but for now I want to say that I had an incredibly blessed first father’s day weekend. Saturday night, which was one of the best weather days I can ever remember in Boston, we hung out with neighborhood friends. The moms conspired together to speak words of encouragement to the dads and it was a precious moment.

Sunday morning the girls made me breakfast while I got to sleep in (a treat all by itself). Marina even signed the card with a squiggly line. Very awesome.

My wife and daughter are amazing and bless me in innumerable ways each and every day…father’s day is, for me, as much about remembering that as anything else.



I am tired. I don’t sleep enough these days. My left eyelid twitches uncontrollably most of the time (a sure sign of fatigue for me). I complain about a lot of things: traveling on the T, people who don’t get it, the frustrations of working for/in two organizations, mice, car trouble. I could go on, I’m sure.

But, life is good. I am so blessed. I am married to an amazing woman and we have a beautiful daughter. We live in a great apartment in a neighborhood we love. We have good friends. We are a part of a church on mission. We serve some amazing college students. We are extremely well taken care of by generous partners. We have a lot of great stories. We have an amazing extended family that cheers us on in so many ways. I could go on, I’m sure.