Skip to main content
Commsy creative stuff straight to your inbox


The power of having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside

< Blog home

The power of having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside

You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside.

– Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


I am not there yet, I am getting better….I’m getting much better at learning to say NO.


So many of us are task rich and time poor, juggling different elements of our lives; be that work, children, parents, friends, hobbies, interests, looking after where we live, paying bills, worrying about paying bills, washing, education, illness, partners, pets, weekly food shop, cooking… oh, so maybe you wouldn’t find me personally cooking, something I have managed to avoid given I really do manage to burn beans, however you get the drift, we have really busy lives.


Often people will ask me how I fit so much in a day, how do I have so much energy, they think I am uber organised and a time management supremo. The thing is I don’t think of it as time-management, I think of it as self-management.

There are only so many hours in the day and by learning to say no, not only do we conserve some of our precious energy, we also are saying yes to an infinite number of other things.


It hasn’t always been this way, and it is still a daily conscious act.

Saying yes when we actually want to say no

You see…. I love to be involved, if I don’t say yes, I might miss out. I like to be helpful; it is the right thing to do, if I say no maybe that means I am not being very nice or I could be perceived as rude. I want to be kind, if I can be kind why wouldn’t I say yes and be kind?  I like to learn; I don’t want to miss opportunities. I like to feel that I have stuff to do, that little nagging voice of making the most of our time. I want to be thinking about planning for the future, for me, for the family, for the ‘what ifs’, so surely it’s best to say yes, just incase! And let’s be really honest, given it is an innate human trait; I want to be liked, I don’t want people to make judgement of me for saying no, so I often found myself saying yes; saying yes when I wanted to say no.


James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, summarises this brilliantly; he says,

No is a decision. Yes, is a responsibility.

He talks about No being a form of time credit, signposting that when we say no we are able to retain the ability to spend this future time saved however we want. Whereas the other side of the coin would be that yes therefore becomes a sort of time debt. We will have to pay back our commitment at some point. And what might that look like? Well maybe a little less time doing something that we choose to do, something that we would like to do at work and have been putting off, maybe a hobby, maybe more importantly time with a loved one; maybe even more importantly time for ourselves. Time to pause, to think, to sleep, to be! We are living in a world where everything is so fast and busy, to really thrive we must take time to slow down. And we must, must, must learn to be more gentle with ourselves.

Giving ourselves time to think, breath and be

Now I am not advocating always saying no to stuff and never saying yes. Goodness, not at all. I have so much passion to get involved, helping where I can and going above and beyond for others, it is my very core to be kind. At the wise old age of 43, as my children are becoming teenagers, losing my father this year to Covid, ramping up opportunities with my career… there are parts of life that seem to be whizzing past, or ‘zooming’ past this year (terrible joke but you can have that one!) Some parts are absolutely out of our control, some parts are very much within our gift to make choices that are right for us.

This year of all years, with the challenges we have faced, it can be so very tempting to hang onto what feels familiar, what feels safer to do so, infact that’s human nature. It is just sometimes the holding on, the not saying no, quite often can be doing even more damage.

So, as we begin to look to the last couple of months of this year, it is so important to not routinely say yes. Take a big deep breath and pause. Give ourselves time to think, breath and be.

Being deliberate in our approach

Switch off the notifications on emails or our phones, to give ourselves a little bit of space. Do think about how our yes decisions fit in with our other priorities and goals. Do use our networks personally and professionally to think who else may be able to say yes for us- delegation can work in our personal lives as well as our professional lives. Be clear on your important things to get done in a day, think about how your yes to other stuff may impact them, be really deliberate with your approach. Sometimes I replace no with a not now, it feels a good halfway house in self-management.


I love to help others, it fills me with absolute joy, I love saying yes. I am getting better at making sure I help myself too, sometimes saying no or not now means I am conserving energy for an infinite number of other things, it means I am saying yes to myself….. And the magic is that some of those future opportunities I won’t even know anything about yet, but I am giving myself the space to say yes when I find out what they are.


By Emma Lloyd, Head of Experience at MB People and Chief Ripple Creator at Create the Ripple.

“The guys at Alive understand the complexities of our business which means we don’t need to explain the detail of every project or design piece – they’re already on it, which keeps things moving and delivers the results we need.”

Emily Stoten — Head of Marketing, Selecta

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

“We had the privilege to work with the Alive team. It was our first time to be involved in creating an animation for our patients within paediatrics. The team were approachable, friendly, creative and very accommodating. Your vision for what you want to create, is at all times acknowledged, appreciated and accommodated by the team. They worked effectively and with great passion towards our project and worked not only alongside health professionals but also our patients who really enjoyed the experience of working with the Alive team. It has given our team the confidence and inspiration to do further projects in the future. We highly recommend Alive and their exceptional team.”

DR ELENI ATHANASAKOS, Lead Paediatric Clinical Scientist — NHS Barts Health

“‘The short animation developed in co-production with clinicians and young people is outstanding! Informative, developmentally appropriate, vitally fun and engaging. We are really grateful for the expertise of the Alive with Ideas team for their innovative approach in building children’s health literacy.'”

Kath Evans — Director of Children’s Nursing at Barts Health

“Our mission was to update our brand visuals to better reflect our innovative and forward-thinking organisation. After receiving numerous pitches from different branding agencies, Alive stood out with their clear passion and understanding of our identity and goals. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Alive Team to create an engaging new brand that we are immensely proud of.”

Lianne Springer — Communications and Engagement Lead

“Alive wowed us during the pitch process and they didn’t stop wowing us throughout the whole project. Every person we worked with at Alive were so friendly, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about what they do. They have worked with us to really understand what we do and have created a new brand and website that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

Louise Burnard, Head of Marketing and Communications UK — Be | Shaping the Future

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

“We have worked with Alan, Caroline and the wider Alive With Ideas team for many years. In that time, they have provided a dedicated service that is second to none. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach to bringing our brand, communications and stories to life. And would recommend them to anyone looking for creative communications support.”

Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist —

“Alive helped us create a video of our response to the floods of winter 2019. Our Chief Officer received messages from all round the country praising us for it and was really pleased with both the video and the response to it.”

Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Alive were professional, friendly and great to work with. Most importantly they were creative, helping us to bring an extremely important safety campaign to life.”

Jack Grasby — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“This looks amazing - brought a smile to my face scrolling through it :-)”

Jack Ford, Head of Marketing — streamGO

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q
Alive logo