Growing up in the Netherlands, my mom, Goverdina (Dinie), often heard her mother say “Nee heb je, ja kun je krijgen!” which means, “No you have, yes you can get!” I was raised with this saying and am now teaching it to my three boys. Now that I’m an adult and have been living by this phrase for many years, I have a much deeper appreciation for all its uses and meanings.
My Oma, Josina, was an incredibly hardworking, creative, fun woman who cared tirelessly for her 5 children, even during WWII while my Opa, Antoon, was away serving in the Dutch military. She often had to be creative with what they had, and I’m sure this saying helped her through those times. For many years, I only understood it’s surface meaning, which is similar to “It doesn’t hurt to ask,” but now I see a stronger, more motivating and expectant connotation.
If you don’t ask (for a discount, for a promotion at work, for your relationship to move to the next level, etc.), then you already have “No” for an answer. You are stuck right where you are at. Fear of embarrassment or rejection is usually the culprit behind keeping silent - as if it’s a sign of weakness to pose a question. But it’s actually a sign of strength, curiosity, and intelligence. This can be as simple as asking a store to price match, asking for a discount on a medical bill over the phone, or seeing if a meeting can be changed to a time that’s better for you. I can’t tell you how much money I have saved by implementing this phrase! When I hesitate to ask, I remind myself, “No you have, yes you can get,” and sometimes I add, “Now go get it!” It is crucial to ask in a friendly, polite way of course, and I often envision the other person saying yes before asking. Keep in mind that you aren’t entitled to what you are asking for, so don’t get your feathers ruffled if the answer is no. Just stay calm and cheerful.
My deep understanding of this saying fuels me in my goal-setting and purpose-driven dreams. If I always play it safe and become content with a mediocre life, whether it be in my work, spiritual growth, physical body, relationships, or hobbies, I will have wasted so much! Potential joy, health, abundance, love, peace, and so many things could be mine. It doesn’t serve you to play it safe. It may be the place that feels safe to most, like a docked boat - but boats were meant to be pushed away from the familiar harbor! It only fulfills its purpose by sailing on open water, embracing the exciting possibilities. These yet-to-be-discovered blessings can only be accessed if you decide they (and you) are worth the risk and pursue them. Often we need to soften our pride, get vulnerable, take a baby step out there, or just leap! Then you can get that “Yes” you desired. You are worth the risk! When fear and doubt tempt me to stay stagnant, my Oma’s wise saying resonates in my heart and propels me upward and onward. Now go get that yes!