This article is part of the Men's Journal Everyday Warrior series, which includes advice, key interviews, and tips for living a life of consistent impact, growth, and learning.
What is the most powerful word in the English language? While this is generally a hotly debated topic with competing schools of thought, that's all changing today because it's time for a definitive answer. The strongest word is yes - and here's why.
Over the summer, a friend texted me asking if I would take her to a shooting competition called The Tactical Games. It was only 8am, I didn't know about the event and we only had four months to train - so of course I said yes.
matter what you think, I'm not a punishment eater. Good, bad, or indifferent, I avoid saying no when opportunities and challenges arise. From a young age, my mother taught me never to put myself in a situation where I had to say, would, should, would. This mentality has made all the difference in my life. Don't get me wrong, saying yes doesn't always work — and it's meant moving more couches than I care to admit — but it's a small price to pay for a fulfilling life.
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As is often the case, life got hectic after I told my girlfriend I was going to the shooting competition with her. Time was slipping through my fingers and our four-month training schedule turned into a few sporadic trips to the shooting range.
The big day came and we were determined to give it our all. Over the next three days we completed physical and tactical tasks, tested our skills and pushed our limits. Did we do well? , but it was humbling to realize that even with 17 years of military service, I was no match for these highly skilled competitors. It was clear to everyone that I had not only entered another arena, but also arrived unprepared.
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After the dust settled, I realized that humiliation was the best scenario. While the experience was challenging and embarrassing, it helped me grow and gave me valuable insights. That simple yes in July resulted in a slightly better version of me driving home after the event.
Why is yes the most powerful word in the English language? Because it is much more than just an adverb or an interjection. It is the embodiment of our potential and growth. Bestselling author Jodi Picoult writes in her novel Change of Heart: “In the gap between yes and no there is life. It's the difference between the path you walk and the path you leave behind; It's the gap between who you thought you could be and who you really are.”
The next time a friend asks you to try something new, remember the path you want to take and the person you want to become. Then take a step toward those ideals by embracing the power of yes.
Lisa Jaster is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Reserves and made history in 2015 as one of the first three women to graduate from the Army Ranger School. In addition to skillfully balancing civilian careers, family life, and personal interests, Lisa is a partner and senior leadership development consultant at the Talent War Group.
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