Seth Godin, a bestselling business book author and marketing thought leader, took the words out of my mouth in his Change This Manifesto posted yesterday, “How to Sell a Book or Any New Idea.” On page 7, he asks each of us to imagine how much time we need in order to be “ready.” Do we need 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, or 2 years? When can we say yes to a key step that will move us closer to what we want to do? Many of you reading this post have a bias toward action, and you may need to find ways to slow down to connect with your voice, your audience, and your purpose. But many of us need to find more ways to say yes. We need to find ways to say yes more often and with less fear.

One my favorite chapters in the book I coauthored with Howard Behar, It’s Not About the Coffee: Leadership Lessons from a Life at Starbucks, is the last one, called “Dare to Dream: Say Yes, the Most Powerful Word in the World.” When we say yes to ourselves, we also say yes to those around us. I’ve found that with each step I take to develop my own business, writing, ideas, or dreams, the stronger I feel and the stronger the connection I make with my clients, colleagues, and partners. I’m no longer watching, evaluating, “editing,” or judging. I’ve got skin in the game and my heart on my sleeve.

“Saying yes is all about people. It’s an emotional word that leads to actions and reactions that have emotional results.”

In fact, maybe that emotional response is a key that tells you when you’re truly saying yes. Are you holding back, or have you invested your whole self? Are you saying yes and open to what comes next—good or bad; positive or negative; raging enthusiasm or a blank stare? If you race ahead pell-mell and think you’re saying yes by doing, doing, doing, maybe you’re missing the yes of small, brave steps that put you and your ideas to the true test. If you hold back too much to safeguard your work-in-progress, maybe you’re not saying yes after all.

A thought exercise: Consider a current project you want to launch; think about how much time you need to “be ready”; map out the key steps; set a deadline for saying yes and act on it. If your time frame is more than six months or a year, think of a smaller chunk that you can say yes to in the next 1–3 months. That’s the time frame most people can keep track of and plan for. Write down your “yes,” put it in a safe place, and mark your calendar with your deadline. See what happens.