No! The meaning of the small word “no” is of immense relevance in our times. In a world characterised not only by a flood of information but also by countless choices, a “no” holds the power to focus on what is essential and to remain true to oneself. By saying “no”, we free ourselves from outdated life models, professional roles and societal expectations. It enables us to go our own way and realise our full potential. “No” is the instrument of our personal freedom.
As early as 1986, sociology professor Ulrich Beck recognised in his book “Risk Society” that freedom of choice can become coercion. If he were alive today, he would probably see many of his theses confirmed. Especially his assertion that freedom can go hand in hand with complexity and the painful compulsion to choose.
In our world characterised by information overload, artificial intelligence and global complexity, two skills are crucial:
The first competence is the inner compass
At a time when traditional models of life and established norms are increasingly disappearing and AI technologies dominate our everyday lives, it is important to discover our own creative power. Because together with virtual assistants, it will be our creative potency that counts in all areas.
The inner compass acts as our guiding star, pointing the way to a profession and lifestyle that only we can practise and live – to our “Ikigai”, our vocation, the unique connection between passion, calling, mission and what the world needs.
The second competence is to set ourselves apart from the expectations of others and to develop the ability to say “no”
This involves, as neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl put it, consciously choosing in the space between stimulus and response and determining our actions based on inner beliefs and values. At all levels of social life, this ability will become a core competence.
Only through our “no” to the expectations of others do we create space for our inner compass and at the same time say “yes” to our authentic life.
Sometimes a “no” means a real revolution, because it means “yes” to something new, “yes” to something of our own.
It means swimming against the tide and finding an individual path. By saying “no”, we gain the ability to master complexity, because we consciously say “yes” to something different.