The Rule of Yes and The Rule of No


When Anne and I were traveling across the US in our Airstream, we developed a couple of “rules for adventure” that we would follow. They worked out pretty well, and I generally still try to follow them in may aspects of life.

The Rule of Yes

When you encounter an opportunity and someone you trust and like say. “Would you like to….” you say “Yes.” Even if you are a bit unsure, or a bit tired, or just not sure, you say “Yes.”

Note: Saying yes is not a lifetime commitment, it only means you will give it a shot. If you try it out and it sucks, you can always say, “This isn’t very fun for me.” and we then change course.

The Rule of No

If someone you trust and like makes a suggestion for what to do, and you have reasons you really don’t want to do that, you say “No.” But… you then must make an alternative suggestion. The ball is now in your court, and you are duty bound to make the next move.

Note: The alternative does not need to be anything amazing, but it has to be something positive.


The rule of Yes was really a rule for the road, a way to get us to embrace adventure and not to be afraid to suggest things to do to one another. So if we drive by the worlds largest pistachio and Anne say “Want to check that out??” I say Yes and we go check it out.

It really helps life move in a forward direction and gives you access to new opportunities and experiences. It assumes the question is a genuine one, but also expresses some element of curiosity or interest when asked.

The rule of No is about making decisions and working cooperatively. It was developed during one of those conversations about where to eat….

You hungry?
What do you want.
How about Chinese food.
How about Pizza.
What would you like?
Anything is fine.

The rule of No makes both people responsible for the decision. No one is shut out or shut down, but you either have to take the wheel or let someone else drive until you find a decision.


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