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2010: The Year of How

How many times has this happened to you?

  • In planning for a meeting, you develop a strategy and sales points, developing what you consider to be the perfect plan. There’s no way that your idea can fail. However, halfway through your presentation, a participant chimes in with that one statement you weren’t expecting: “That’s not going to work,” and an argument that takes the wind out of your sails. Your concept is dashed and the discussion comes to an abrupt stop.
  • Over dinner, you’re talking with your spouse about an upcoming vacation and what you’d both like to do. Each option that’s presented is met with “oh, no, we can’t do that” and a supporting reason why not. The cycle of thought immediately stops.

A helpful reminder...

What if the conversation didn’t stop there? What if, instead of derailing the train of thought with the word “no”, we pushed forward by asking “how?” By pressing forward with brainstorming and uncovering options, not only do we reach a potentially lost goal, but we also change our perspective on many parts of our lives – social, professional, even spiritual.

With this perspective, I am declaring this new year as the Year of How. I predict that, by expanding our minds and refusing to dismiss what still may lie within the confines of the law and morality, we can accomplish so much more in business and in our lives. I urge you to try it out. The next time you feel the need to say “no”, stop yourself and, instead, ask “how?” I’m sure that you will find yourself thinking more positively and learning far more than you ever could with the “no” mindset.

Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.


  • Yes, it’s oh-so-easy to kill others’ ideas — or allow our own ideas to be derailed — by giving in to skepticism or objections.

    Otoh, saying “no” can be really useful when it lets us say “YES!” to more important things. Of course, that’s different from saying “no we can’t do that.” It’s more like “no, I REALLY want to do x instead.”

    So before asking “how?” maybe first ask whether there’s a big enough “YES!” to work from? Seems to me the “how” gets easier if there is.

  • tina says:

    Love that…the year of how! Very positive!!

  • Great post!

    We all know people who are stuck on “it won’t work.” Talking to them is always a downer.

    So… we need to change the way we approach a subject. Instead of saying “Let’s do this” and giving them the opportunity to say “can’t” we should perhaps begin by saying “I have an idea, help me see how we can make this work.”

    I’m with you. Let’s all make 2010 the year of “How!”

  • Renee Barnow says:

    Like this a lot. My focus is on the physiology of words and in January e-zine (will be released Jan 21)I named the last decade as the Oh Nos.

  • Mark Barden says:

    Yes, love this. My own version of this in exactly the same spirit is to name the year the year of “Yes And”. That is the most powerful phrase in the English language and if you impose the rule of beginning each “build” with that on a room it seriously changes everything. The link is to a 6 minute video of me discussing this at a conference last year. The year of the Oh No!

  • Tom says:

    no, I can’t do that (ask how)…

  • Great observation Patrick, and after a tumultuous (hope the spelling is correct! never noticed the number of “u”s in it before) 2009, this is a great and timely and easy-to-remember question. Many thanks.

  • Lori Addison says:

    Great advise…………….I will remember this!

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