Say “Yes” to Opportunity

20 May

May is National Military Appreciation Month – in which we honor, remember, recognize and appreciate all military personnel and their families. This past Saturday, May 19th, was Armed Forces Day; and this year, I had the honor of attending the retirement ceremony for Captain Rick Myllenbeck, USN, at the Navy Memorial in Washington, DC. Rick retired after 42 years (that’s right, 4-2 years) of military service that began on May 19, 1976.

I cannot do justice to Rick’s career in a short blog post, so here is a great article about him that appeared in the local newspaper a few years back: https://oldtowncrier.com/2016/06/02/rick-myllenbeck-owner-wine-boss-mystery-man/

While Rick and I were both stationed at the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) at the same time following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, we didn’t actually meet until he and his wife, Elizabeth, opened Sonoma Cellars – a wine tasting room in Alexandria, VA – in September 2015. I’ve had many opportunities to talk with Rick since then; over a glass of wine at brunch, or while enjoying a cigar on Tuesday night.

There were many warm, wonderful and profound messages offered at Rick’s retirement ceremony, but the one that stuck with me came from Rick himself – say “yes” to every opportunity. While his remarks were directed at the young service men and women in the room, we can all learn from Rick’s sage advice.

Saying “yes” to opportunity has allowed me to travel the world, experience new cultures, get a world-class education, start several businesses, help many others to start their own businesses, and stand on stage telling stories. And it is the prospect of saying “yes” to more opportunities that keeps my outlook positive about the future.

Why is this so important? In general, I find life is richer, fuller, more vibrant. I’m an introvert, so trust me when I say my natural tendency is to say “no” more often than not. But I cannot deny that the most fulfilling moments of my life have occurred when I said “yes” to an opportunity. (Note: I’m not saying you need to say “yes” to every social engagement or business venture, but taking the time to reflect on them before reflexively saying “no” can open new doors to new experiences and adventures you many never have considered.

Here are a couple of articles on the benefits of saying “yes” to opportunity:
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/susie-moore/9-reasons-saying-yes-will_b_8084452.html
https://www.themuse.com/advice/i-said-yes-to-everything-for-a-year-and-heres-what-happened
https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-lessons-youll-learn-by-saying-yes-to-new-and-scary-things

What will you say “yes” to this week?

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