“No” isn’t an answer. It’s a direction

My sister, Linda, busily prepared a sample board for a client. She add fabric swatches, pictures of tables and chairs, paint chips and samples of trim.

The idea is to give her client a visual of how she addressed their redecorating needs and desires. She does that a lot at LaBella Casa.

I looked at the board in amazement. I would have never thought to combine that stripe with that floral. The colors weren’t all the same, yet they complimented each other. My fingers would brush across a variety of textures and finishes.

And, on each sample board, you’d spot some surprising twist. It could be a leopard print chair, a neon glow pillow or delicate trim on a rustic lamp shade. Whatever it was, it was beautiful.

But then I’m Linda’s sister. Everything she does to decorate a home amazes me.

That’s when it occurred to me. What if, after Linda put all these ideas together, the client didn’t like it. What if their first response was “No, that’s not it.” So, I asked her.

Linda answered with a bewildered look on her face. It’s as if she were searching her brain trying to figure out why I should ask such a silly question.

“No” isn’t an answer. It’s a direction,” my sister explained.

sample 2Instead of being upset that the client didn’t agree with her choices, the client’s “no” just pointed Linda in a new direction, helping her get closer to the client’s vision.

In fact, Linda told me the choices the client says “No” to are just as important as the choices where they say “Yes!” With so many choices, each yes or no answer helps Linda sort through the thousands of options until the client smiles and says, “Yes, that’s it!”

“No” is not only a direction. It’s a philosophy of life.

What my little sister doesn’t know is I’ve become a guru of the “No” isn’t an answer. It’s a direction philosophy of life. I’ve shared my sister’s simple phrase with my college students, colleagues and friends.

When I tell a student “No, the lead of this story is wrong” it doesn’t mean they’ve failed, it just means they need to make adjustments. My “no” suggests a refinement, a new direction that helps them see other options, other ways to solve a problem.

My students might hear “no” several times, but when I finally say “yes” you can see a sense of pride and accomplishment spread across their faces. (Okay, sometimes that sense of pride is accompanied by shouts of joy, high 5’s and calls home to their mothers.)

The point is, each time I told them “no” they got closer to achieving their goal.

It’s a philosophy I’ve adopted when someone tells me “No.” I think to myself, that isn’t an answer, it’s just points me in a new direction.

Even when the person’s “No” seemed asinine, thick-headed and just plain wrong, I know traveling that pathway again wouldn’t get me anywhere. I have to make a course adjustment that either gets me through or around the obstacle blocking me from my goal.

And, to think, this deep philosophy of life sprang up from one of my dear sister’s sample boards.


Now imagine what Linda can do for you when you open the door to LaBella Casa and my sister says, “Yes, how may I help you?” When that happens you’ve opened the door to making your home even more beautiful.

Linda may be the designer, but I’m the writer. So, I’m making it my job to keep you up to speed on Linda’s progress as she gets LaBella Casa ready to open its doors.

Linda’s older and wiser sister…


Please feel free to leave comments or share your experiences working with Linda.