Saying ‘Yes, Yes!’ to the Power of Words

Erin Paterson avatar

by Erin Paterson |

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I wasn’t expecting to be brought to tears when I heard motivational speaker Lisa Nichols address a crowd at the Archangel Summit in Toronto last year.

Nichols strode onto the catwalk-style stage wearing a long, embroidered dress, her braided hair cascading down her back. A thousand people had gathered in the dimly lit banquet hall to spend the day listening to professional speakers. My writing coach had given me a ticket to the event to celebrate the completion of my memoir‘s first draft.

That day, Nichols spoke to us about her childhood, the challenges of being a single mom, and her incredible business success. She walked up and down the stage addressing all members of the audience, even those of us seated way off to the side. She said her successes in life came when she pushed herself beyond her comfort zone.

Then she got the audience involved. Nichols told us to reach a hand up as high as we could. We all did as requested. Then, she asked us to reach even higher with the same arm. Everyone managed to inch their arms up slightly. Nichols look out into the crowd, paused, and then asked why we hadn’t reached as high to begin with.

She told us that only when we had reached our hand up a second time — saying, “yes” and “yes” again — would we find success in life. Success would come, she said, when we stepped beyond our comfort zone.

Nichols devoted the second half of her speech to pumping us up and encouraging us to follow our dreams. She strutted around in her high heels enthusiastically making declarations and gesticulating with her arms. She told us to shout, “Yes! Yes!” when we agreed with anything she said.

I don’t remember exactly what she yelled to the crowd, but her statements made me feel as though she could see into my heart and mind. “Yes! Yes!” I shouted along with the audience. It felt as if she understood how I was trying to see Huntington’s disease as a gift rather than a curse. How I have been trying to live a positive and meaningful life.

“Yes! Yes!” we shouted again. It was as if she understood what writing my book meant to me and how hard I had been working to find a publisher. How I was learning from my diagnosis and using my experiences to help others.

“Yes! Yes!” we shouted. As she continued, I felt tears in the corners of my eyes.

Then, she walked off the stage and made her way into the audience. She approached a man and held him by the hand. She looked into his eyes and spoke directly to him, telling him he was good enough just the way he was. She moved on to a lady on the other side of the room, telling her, “I see you, sister, and I love you.”

She gave the woman a hug before walking over to another woman seated directly in front of me. I don’t even know what she said to her because I was sobbing by that time, bowing my head down to avoid being seen on the camera that followed her around.

Somehow without ever having met me, Nichols seemed to understand every fear I had faced, and she validated them. She seemed to know every obstacle I had overcome and she praised me. She understood how hard I was trying, and she told me that I could do it. She believed in me.

When Nichols left the stage to the applause of the audience, I noticed I was not the only one looking for tissues to wipe away my tears. As everyone filed out of the room to grab lunch, I remained seated in an effort to compose myself.

I was emotionally exhausted, but her speech left me feeling more certain of myself. I was more confident in my decision to break away from my secrecy and share my experiences with Huntington’s. I was more confident in my book and trying to find a publisher. I was more confident in my purpose to positively impact other people’s lives by writing and speaking about Huntington’s.

I have never been in the presence of such a powerful speaker. If you ever get a chance to hear Nichols speak, don’t pass it up. Her words alone validated my purpose and renewed my drive to make a difference in the world. I know that my words, in my own way, can make a difference for someone else, too.


Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.


Belinda avatar


Giving lectures and giving hope to the HD Community
is a bandaid on the wound. Many of us are tired of
just getting hope and not having any treatments. It
has been 25 years and we still do not have anything
positive for us except for your trials and more
experimenting but no positive results. It took a
a nation to come together to help fight this coronovirus
in just days but years and years later we still do not
have anything for us in the HD Community. We all need help now as our love ones are dying from this horrible
disease. Yes it is slow numbers not like the virus but
our casalties are still to be counted. We are losing
this battle and we shouldn't be we should be rejoicing
with a treatment and giving our love ones their life back. People we need to get moving and stop trying to
cure it give us someting so we can endure it. The cure
can come later.
Thank you for listening.

Jessie avatar


Hello Erin... this is a really powerful column. Currently I live in a limbo of rejection, by all sorts of people/areas of life, including agents and publishers, as I too, have written my story and want to find a channel in which it can live big and reach others. I know I also don't reach far enough, and I can so understand how Nichols talk touched you so deeply. I'm pretty sure, had I been there, I would have ended up sobbing in a corner :)

I am Jess, btw, from Dachshunds & Duvets, over at Endometriosis News ;)

Erin Paterson avatar

Erin Paterson

Thank you so much for reading my story Jessie. It can be really hard to put yourself out there but I have no doubt you are finding your own way to do it and it will build as you go.


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