6/6/19: That's a HARD No.
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Hi, my name is MK Fleming. I'm a run coach based in Denver, Colorado. But this isn't a podcast about running, exactly. Don't tell my clients, but *whispers* we're never really talking about the running. When you know a crap-tastic event is coming it helps to have a mantra to keep you centered and focused as you move through it. You don't have to be an athlete to be hashtag #coachedandloved by coach MK. And if you are here, then you are hashtag #winningatlife.
Today’s Mantra Is: That’s a HARD No.
My whole life I’ve been called “crazy” or referred to as a ‘loose cannon’. What this specifically means is that I cannot be counted on to keep my mouth shut and just go with it when I am fucked with. I’m not a cool girl. My silence has never protected me, so if the end result is the same….why NOT speak up? It’s perfectly logical.
We like to pretend that the sexes are equal, that everyone is equal under the law, and that rain will always fall on the just and the unjust. We submit to the gaslighting, that it’s because we don’t ask CORRECTLY, that we don’t ask FORCEFULLY enough, that we are somehow complicit in our own oppression, that we are denied things because we DESERVE THEM less, and we buy it. Because option b.. is terrifying. Realizing what we are up against….how immutable it is, how so many people don’t see it or worse DO and still will keep their mouths shut to go along to get along...THAT’S overwhelming. Who would bring a girl into THAT world?
Pause here for a minute and think of the word “no”, and how you’ve probably had a conversation recently with someone about how you need to say “no” more frequently and you really ought to have better boundaries and ENFORCE Them better and be STRONGER and MORE RESOLUTE and have a SPINE and STAND UP FOR YOURSELF…..as though the problem is YOU and power is YOURS IF YOU WOULD JUST GET OFF YOUR ASS AND STOP PLEASING PEOPLE!
When is the last time someone asked you why? Asked you about the consequences of no? Asked for specifics, how defending and enforcing that ‘no’ is more work than just saying, ‘yes’? How ANGRY people get when you say no, how they hold it against you later? How that grudge never goes away? How you avoid people rather than get sucked into conversations where you could be asked to do something...and have to say no? Have you recognized this as a survival skill cultivated over a lifetime and not a genetic flaw you were born with? If ONLY we could GROW the chromosome that allows ‘no’ to fall of off our lips and be heard????
I’m thinking about this pretty deeply right now. Here’s why. Last Friday I clicked on an interesting link in an email:
The premise behind this nonprofit took my breath away. Link in the shownotes, but bottom line is that women write stories and submit to the nonprofit. At the live TedXEvent, sealed envelopes are handed to a male reader just before he walks on stage. One by one, those men open their envelopes and cold-read a woman’s experience out loud to the audience.
First-person storytelling is HARD, I would like to believe that women are generally not considered to be reliable narrators of our own experiences, but maybe it’s just me. You know, since I’m so volatile. So crazy. SUCH a loose cannon and definitely my own worst enemy. I knew immediately which story I wanted to tell. I haven’t told this particular story because I could not think of a way to get my point across, to really be heard. I took a deep breath and like went there; the result was pretty powerful. If my story isn’t selected for the event I may find a dude to cold-read it on the podcast.
Spoiler alert, my submission had to do with the consequences of ‘no’ that we generally don’t acknowledge, that we pretend don’t exist..that we pretend we CAN control if we just say the damned word correctly.
I tell you all of this to underscore the fact that even me, your fearless leader, Loud, mouthy, opinionated MK who cannot be counted on to be silent when she is fucked with, struggles with saying, enforcing, and managing the fallout from saying the word, ‘no’.
Saying “No” is subversive. It’s the ultimate act of rebellion. It’s jarring. It’s unexpected. It’s ballsy as fuck, the refusal is always bigger than the thing itself.
When Coach Sarah texted me this afternoon to tell me that today, her first Global Running Day as a coach, her third Global Running Day in a row SHE FAILED TO RUN, I was like hell yeah girl who cares? You said no. Don’t overthink it, there are no consequences here. You are becoming a public figure, a leader in a growing community of runners, and the COOLEST thing you can do is say no when you need to….and stand by it. We Maintain year-round so who gives a crap about one missed run?
Of course, it’s not about the missed run, it’s about the ‘no’. It’s about the consequences of ‘no’, that it gives others an opening to come at you and encourage you to flip that no to a YES and JUST DO IT OMG. This is a safe place to say no. This ‘no’ won’t upset the whole apple cart in this area of your life, anyway. This no will not arouse disappointment or anger, not here not ever. This ‘no’ does not negate all of the other million runs you’ve done, the work you execute perfectly day in day out. your coach creds are solid and are not impacted in any way by this ‘no’. This is a Hard No because it was hard to say. It’s ballsy as fuck.
SO. The Mantra: 40+ years of conditioning isn’t going to disappear overnight. Your gut is great, your survival skills are AMAZING, no one will ever know the maze you had to navigate to be here today. There is nothing wrong with you, and every choice you’ve ever made was the right one at the time. You know how to say ‘no’, and you know when to speak up and when no one really wants to hear it. You know when the people around you have your back, and when they absolutely don't so don't bother asking. Maybe you hear yourself seeking permission to say no, and are PISSED when that permission is denied or ignored over and over only for your acquiescence to be used against you later, “you should have said no!” pffffft.
In those moments when you want to explain your no so that it lands softly, when you want to defend your no so the person asking won’t be angry or offended, I want you to hear MY VOICE In the back of your head saying THAT IS A HARD NO! And stop talking. No defenses. No explanations. No means no. It’s never easy to say. IN fact, most of the time, especially for women, no is really effing hard to say. RESPECT THE NO. This is me, your coach, encouraging you to be ballsy as fuck and giving you permission to say no and walk away. That's the only way your daughters are going to learn how to do it.
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