Four Keys to a ‘Yes Face’ Attitude


What you do when you don’t have to will determine what you’ll be when you can’t help it – William D. Hersey

In his book, The Grace Awakening, Charles Swindoll tells a story about Thomas Jefferson and a group of companions who were travelling across country on horseback. They came to a river which had left its banks because of a recent downpour. The swollen river had washed the bridge away. Each rider was forced to ford the river on horseback, fighting for his life against the rapid currents.

The very real possibility of death threatened each rider, which caused a traveler who was not part of their group to step aside and watch. After several had plunged in and made it to the other side, the stranger asked President Jefferson if he would ferry him across the river. The president agreed without hesitation. The man climbed on, and shortly thereafter the two of them made it safely to the other side.

As the stranger slid off the saddle onto dry ground, one in the group asked him, “Tell me, why did you select the president to ask this favor of?” The man was shocked, admitting he had no idea it was the president who had helped him. “All I know,” he said, “is that on some of your faces was written the answer ‘No,’ and on some of them was written the answer ‘yes’. His was a ‘yes’ face.

Maintaining a ‘yes face’ attitude can be challenging, even for the best of leaders. How do you have a ‘yes face’ when surrounded by ‘no’ attitude mindsets? Here are four keys to get you started.

Daily Choices

Your attitude is one of your strongest leadership assets. It will make you or break you. Not only will it set the tempo for how your day goes but often it will be the thermostat by which others adapt around you. You cannot prevent the unexpected nor can you wave a magic wand to make all the jerks you deal with go away. But when you choose to rise above it then the ‘no face’ attitudes can’t touch you. Each day you have to decide that you will have a ‘yes face’ attitude regardless of what comes you way.

Good Company

The company you keep is one of the most important decisions you will make as a leader. Many people will occupy space in the margins of your day. It can be vendors who come and go, temps in the office, or other people you may not regularly have contact with who carry with them a ‘no face’ attitude. But the company you keep; especially your inner circle will reflect your ‘yes face’ attitude and quite possibly will have it themselves. Be careful who you let in and never hesitate to make adjustments. The company you keep should reflect the same attitudes and values that you expect as a ‘yes face’ leader.

Quiet Confidence

The confidence you possess and portray as a leader is the byproduct of a ‘yes face’ attitude that is indicative of your strength. The signal of a ‘yes face’ attitude is how people in your organization get the confidence they need to move forward. Jefferson’s confidence is what caused the stranger to desire to ride across the river with him. Your confidence is what will cause others to want to be around you. Never underestimate nor neglect the value of quiet confidence as part of your leadership skill set. Give your people the example they need. Lead with quiet confidence and let your ‘yes face’ attitude shine.

Uninhibited Courage

Leadership is not for the faint of heart. When you lead with uninhibited courage you are signaling that your passions run deep, your values are clear, and your purpose is resolute. The courage of a ‘yes face’ attitude is defined not by the lack of challenges or obstacles but by an attitude and determination that will face them down. Courage will take you farther, enable you to accomplish more, and give you a competitive edge to succeed.

A ‘yes face’ attitude will not give you immunity from problems or aggravations, but it will give you the right frame of mind to face and overcome them. Choose a ‘yes face’ attitude and elevate your leadership competency.

Do you have a ‘yes face’ attitude?

© 2013 Doug Dickerson


If you enjoy reading Doug’s leadership columns you will especially enjoy reading his books, Leaders Without Borders & Great Leaders Wanted. Visit Doug’s website at to order your copies today!

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About dougdickerson

I am Certified Leadership Trainer, author, columnist, and speaker. Husband to Alicia, father to Katelyn and Kara, and "Pop" to terrific grandson Tyson. I am an avid photographer, love the outdoors, and like to travel. I'm passionate about sharing my leadership insights and helping people reach their full potential.
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