in life

The Grey. (That Blurry Line Between “Hell Yes” and “No”)

If you haven’t been inspired, ignited, informed, or otherwise entertained by my friend and entrepeneurial colleague Amber, do yourself a favor and hop on the bandwagon. If it’s one thing I connect with more than any other, it’s her assertive and deliberate decision making. She isn’t afraid to leave even what may be an outstanding career (working with Seth Godin) or an exciting city (New York) when she knows there’s something better, more important, or more fulfilling that she can and should be doing. She follows her head AND her heart, and as a result is doing great, great things without pulling any punches.

Yesterday she shared some of her “unconventional rules of life”, all of which rang true. Though one stuck out in particular that I want to elaborate on. She says:

Never do anything you don’t want to do. Hell yes or no. If you don’t want to do it, be honest (without being hurtful), and carry on with what you do want to do. Doing things that you don’t want to do because you’re trying to be nice or trying to please will actually hurt you and them in the long-run.”

“Hell yes” or “no”. Not “yes”. Not “maybe”. It’s about going either full speed ahead, or pumping your breaks and saving yourself the energy of pursuing something your heart isn’t in.

Ultimately, I believe this is the way life should be lived. It would save us all a lot of stress if we could say no to the things that don’t matter, don’t want to do, or otherwise don’t excite us. And instead, focus our energy into being fulfilled and passionate in everything we do.

But the realist in me knows this isn’t always the case. It’s not always black and white. In fact, it can often be pretty grey.

I’m here to tell you, Grey is okay. It’s not perfect. It’s not ideal. It’s not your best-case scenario. But it’s where we’ll often find ourselves.

It’s taking a job that may not be a dream, but does pay the bills. It’s renting an apartment, even when you’ve been wanting to buy a home for years. It’s taking on a less-than-ideal client to keep the lights on for another month. It’s staying put instead of taking the leap. It’s figuring things out. Problem-solving. Planning. Strategizing.

In the grey, we embrace and understand where we are to figure out where we want to be.

The grey is part of life. It’s the real world. It’s a place you’ve been. A place you are. And a place you will be.

And though it’s a part of life, the grey is temporary. The grey is a stepping stone. It’s a transition to something better. It’s calculated and patient.

Eventually, things must become black and white. They must become clear. You’ll be asked to follow your heart. You’ll be asked to take a risk. You’ll be confronted by the ultimate obstacle and challenge: yourself.

It’s at this moment, and in these moments, that you’ll need to follow in the wise words of my friend Amber and say “hell yes” and go for it or “no” and head in another direction.

But don’t get lost in the fog. Don’t let the blurriness of the grey confuse you or hold you back forever. Be decisive. Be deliberate. Be daring. Be bold. Sometimes that means saying “hell yes”. Sometimes that means saying “no”.

The beauty of both? They remove you from the grey and put you smack dab into the bright spotlight that is the best part of life…


Add Your Voice


  1. Very timely and true blog post.  Rarely do you read something that embraces the sometimes necessary and temporary “grey space.”  Thank you.

  2. Thank you for writing this. There are so many ambitious, independent, risk-taking people in our generation that I think those of us in the grey stage often feel guilty for being there. It is okay and (real and normal) to be grey, as long as we don’t get stuck there and lose sight of our dreams. I couldn’t agree more. 

    • Exactly. Don’t ever look at others and think that where you are isn’t good enough. The grey area is a part of life, but, like you said, it isn’t life. It’s not where you’ll be forever. It’s the place where you figure out where you want to be, and how to get there. It’s clearing the way so you can say “hell yes” or “no”. :)

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  4. I’m totally with you on the grey areas (or gray, if you will :)). It brings me back to the line, “You can’t change the world if you can’t pay the bills.” Sometimes we have to do things that don’t immediately inspire a “hell yes” attitude. In some cases, the question should be, “Will saying yes to this lead me to where I want to be?” Over time, we gain more and more luxury (necessity, really) to pick and choose where we spend our time.

    • Exactly! It’s that dose of realism that seems to be forgotten, but is important for everyone to realize and embrace. Being in a less-than-ideal place in order to get to where you ultimately want to be is not selling yourself short, it’s a part of life…

  5. Wow. This is awesome. I absolutely love your “grey is okay” perspective. LOVE. So often we are afraid to be in this space when really, it’s through experiencing and accepting the uncertainty and the unknown we get to the place where we’re ready to say HELL YES. Thank you for rounding out this perspective! 

    ps – on the Seth Godin front, it was a 6 month gig. So I didn’t quit. The project just ended. 

    • Thank YOU for the inspiration, Amber (and my apologies about mis-speaking re: your work with Seth Godin). Everything you said re: “hell yes” or “no” is 100% spot on, though it’s equally important for folks to be “okay with the grey” – as long as they use that time to figure things out and gain clarity, so they can be decisive in what they should, and shouldn’t be doing. Cheers!