Call me Chris.


Audio link to the World According to Chris: Episode 30

I want to spend today’s column on a topic that I preach about often. It’s something I learned from my parents. I pass it on to my daughter. Probably ad nauseam.

I’m referring to the power of ‘NO.’

I happen to think ‘NO’ is both the most powerful and influential word in the English language. It’s potent in its simplicity. It can stand as a singular response that implies deeper meaning.

For starters, ‘no’ helps us define boundaries. It begins early in our childhood as we explore our newfound world with our hands and mouths. We learn that our mother’s ‘no’ is a warning. It’s also a safety measure. It keeps us from engaging in behaviors that might harm us.

All of that is self-evident. You might be wondering why I went to the trouble to describe something so intuitive. As it turns out, as powerful as the word ‘no’ is, its absence creates a different kind of power.

In a world without ‘no,’ the mind becomes easily corrupted. Boundaries no longer exist. You and I live this when we see a child in the grocery store throwing a terrible tantrum to wear down his mother into buying this trinket or that chocolate bar.

That’s not the sort of corruption I want to focus on. We can all recall a peer we grew up with who didn’t hear the word ‘no’ enough and turned out to be, well, probably a self-entitled jerk we’d rather not be around. Instead, I want you to imagine what it must be like to be a star.

I’m talking about a really famous star at that. Someone who never hears the word ‘no.’ You see, we still need to hear ‘no’ as adults because we still need boundaries. We still need reality checks. And we still need to be reminded that we’ve taken leave of our faculties from time to time.

If we never heard the word ‘no,’ our sense of entitlement would surely expand. If we were never told our ideas were wrong, we’d surely fill with hubris and think we could force through most any idea that popped into our minds. Most importantly, if we never heard ‘no,’ we’d never have to make choices based on opportunity costs.

If you’re wondering, opportunity cost is a term used in economics to describe what you have to give up when you choose something. Picture buying a car. If you purchased the Toyota, the opportunity cost of that purchase is all other cars you were realistically considering at the time.

So, stars—the elite among us—don’t hear ‘no’ very often, if ever. They don’t have to make choices driven by opportunity cost. They live in a world where they can have their cake and eat it too.

It warps the mind. It removes necessary guardrails that keep average folks like you and me from spinning out of control and tumbling down the mountain. If you’ve ever wondered why the rich and famous seem so out of touch, it’s simple. They don’t hear ‘no’ from the people at their beck and call.

Quite literally, stars don’t see the world as you and I see it. They can’t see the world as you and I see it. It’s not about fault or blame (something I’ve touched on in other columns). It’s about society lifting them up to the point where they don’t have to exercise personal accountability. We forgive their misdeeds because we adore them. We never tell them ‘no.’ Maybe, you and I are the lucky ones. Living with ‘no’ keeps our feet on the ground. It guides us through the journey of life, helping us avoid catastrophes. Its power and influence serve as a daily reminder of the consequences of our choices.

As always, this has been the World According to Chris. Please hit the like button or leave a reply.

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