“Do you want to go with me to this rush event tonight?” Richard asked me for one evening. It was the first month of college, and all the freshman and transfer settled into their dorm rooms.
“What is the rush event about?” I asked.
“It was about this Engineer Fraternity stuff, I heard they have a lot of huge Alumni that might able to get you jobs in the field!”, Richard said.
I ended up checking out the event and met a lot of new people. As a new transfer student, I was eager to make new friends in a new town. However, the process of choosing candidates to be in the organization was strict. Therefore, I didn’t get selected.
Fast forward one year later, one of my friends that got a bid and was in the organization message me to come out and rush again.
At that moment, I was uncomfortable to come out again since I got rejected the first time. However, after a couple of peer pressure, I said yes to my friend and decided to try my best and come out to the event again.
I was chosen as one of the members of the organization this time.
That opportunity has opened so many doors for me. I got my first internship because someone in the fraternity refers to me as an applicant, and that internship opened the door 2 other internships with IBM, and Macy’s Tech.
If I didn’t say yes for going out to the event that night, I might not be able to get the opportunity to be referred to in my first internship.
Saying yes can have a domino effect in your life.
When you encounter choices in your life, we usually have two options: yes, to follow that choice, or no to move to the next option.
Usually, people said no because they are uncomfortable or don’t want to have those decisions. If you say no because you really don’t want to, that is totally fine. However, if you said no because you are uncomfortable, you might have to rethink your answer.
The decisions between each choice come down to explore vs. exploit dilemma. Let me explain.
Explore vs. Exploit
The exploration, exploitation trade-off is a dilemma we frequently face in choosing between options. Should you decide what you already know and get something close to what you expect (exploit), or want something you aren’t sure about and possible learn more (explore)?
This happens all the time in life. Would you instead choose the same dish that you order last time, or try out a new recipe that you never tried before? Should you keep working on the same business projects or try something else?
It happens in company strategy decisions. Your small production business has had a few hits over the years, and you are trying to work out what your next project should be. You know that if you did a sequel of an old classic, it would be a safe route to pursue. However, the return might not be as sky-high. Conversely, if you try a new idea which is highly predictable, it could go south, or it can become the next Game of Throne series.
When choosing between decisions, exploitation usually is an easy yes. Nonetheless, exploration choices can be no. This is why we say no to a networking event, to a public speaking class, or to start writing a blog.
Based on your age and life situation, you may choose one towards another. For instance, people often said yes to a lot of things when they are at a young age because you have time to explore and failed. Once you are older, having families, you may say yes more to exploitation.
It comes underly in our ancestors. We tend to do things that we will know it will bring us rewards. Our ancestors don’t like to explore new things because they don’t know what the result might causes. For instance, they rather stay in the right place and eat the right food rather than eating poisonous food. We don’t generally dabble for the uncertain promise of future rewards.
However, choosing exploitation can create Local Maxima Traps.
“A local maximum is a small hill next to a mountain. When you get to the top of the hill, the only way you can go higher is by going down first. But, stay at the top of the hill, and you’ll miss the views from the mountaintop.” – Scott H. Young
When you fail to explore enough, it can result in local maxima traps. Having seen an opportunity or being comfortable with the current value early on in your life can trick you into exploiting instead of exploring.
I think the opposite is more important. I am grateful that I didn’t get the best internship or get hired in a big company after graduation because it helps me to keep pushing myself. It helps me find another source of income or explore other possibilities that I would have never expect.
When you say yes, even if you are uncomfortable, you will unleash a lot of potential within you that you might have never seen before. For instance, when you do attend the public speaking event, you might notice there is a hidden talent within you that you are good at it. When you say yes and go to that networking event, you might land your next job or your next opportunity in that networking event.
Saying yes to everything comfortable and uncomfortable will rush your adrenaline. You will always put yourself on your toes. You will feel awkward at first. However, after a while, you realize that you will grow and have opened up new doors. This is why exploration can is unpredictable, even scary sometimes, but the return of investment is always a great or rewarding lesson.
How to say yes to everything and enabled exploration?
There are a couple ways that can help you turn you from exploit mode to saying yes to exploration.
Become more Financial Independent
Having an emergency fund helps you feel secure and help you have the insurance to take the leap and say yes to the business opportunity.
Follow on another people footstep
It doesn’t mean to copy what they do. However, by looking at other’s exploration journeys, you can determine how you can route your own exploration, saying yes to things that you can have confidence about. Read more books and articles, and understand how other people say yes and explore. As you find items that appear to produce the outcomes you want, spend more time and energy doing them.
“Many times, we assume things to be a certain way, when, in fact, the actual experience can be dramatically different and can potentially lead to incredible and unexpected opportunities.”
If I didn’t say yes and go to that rush event that night, I don’t think I can get to where I am today. If I didn’t say yes to the networking event, I don’t think I will land my gig today. If I didn’t say yes to myself and start writing, I don’t think I can share this article about my thought to you. You might not find everything that you agreed to try. However, by saying yes to everything, you can find many things that you did. You will cross paths with many people that you would have never done.
Next time, when someone asks you to join a networking event or to start a business, or go to take a coaching class, say yes, without a second thought.
You never know how a simple “yes” can lead to something extraordinary in your life.