“The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.”
Tony Blair – Former British Prime Minister
In This Episode
You’re going to learn about the most powerful tool and resource I have ever used. But, it IS something you have to use. Just having it won’t do a thing for you until you put it into play. But once you do, your path to success becomes so much less cluttered clearly marked.
Today’s tool is one we all discover very early in our lives. In fact, it’s something we probably use more in our younger years than we do as we get older. Most kids are using this tool several times a day, and most adults have become afraid to use it.
So what is it?
The word NO
In fact, if you listened to yesterdays episode, I had to learn to use this tool with something I love doing…this podcast. I’m not giving up the podcast, but I did have to say NO to putting out an episode on Tuesday’s and Thursdays.
I found I was so eager to saying yes to a daily podcast that I wasn’t able to
Some people have mastered this tool, but honestly, I have not been one of them, so I’m still always reminding myself that need to use it more often. I need to clear the path to success by learning when to say no and to what.
When to Say No
When your schedule is full, you should almost always say no long before you even consider saying yes. In fact, your yes means very little if you’re not willing to say no to something else that may come between you and fulfilling those previous yes’s.
Don’t forget, your schedule should include time for yourself as well as time for those around you who need your time.
We don’t realize it, but oftentimes we’re saying yes to so many things, we default to no for everything else and as I’m mentioned, sometimes that’s the people or things we love the most. You have to realize, you’re saying no to a lot of things already, it’s time you became intentional and purposeful in your directing of this tool.
Let me use an analogy I think will make it easier to see…. food!
If you don’t learn to say no to foods, you’ll eventually become overweight, out of shape and incredibly unhealthy. If you say yes to every food you see, when you see it, you’re not going to have room in your diet for the foods to which you should be saying yes… the ones which will benefit you the most.
You see a donut at the gas station on your way to work and you gobble it down (in other words, you say yes) and then when you get to work, you remember you have some oatmeal in your desk along with some blueberries in the fridge. Because you said yes to the donut, you don’t have room for the better breakfast item.
To What Should You Say No?
I’ll continue with the food analogy because I think it’s very easy to understand and it serves very well for this illustration.
When you want to eat well, one of the best things you can do is plan out your meals. Plan out the healthy food yeses well in advance so you don’t have to settle for whatever comes along. This is what we do with our goals and obligations in life… it’s impulse living and it’s just as bad as impulse eating, impulse shopping or anything else that isn’t intentional.
But… make sure you’re not saying no to your healthy veggies so you can say yes to the sugar loaded dessert. This is what we do when we don’t work to our optimum ability in an effort to make sure we have all the time we want to play. Find that balance.
Have you planned out your goals for the next week? The next month, year or even 5 years? Do you have a direction for yourself?
Once you know where you want to go, you have a clear understanding of where you don’t want to go and it’s a LOT easier to know what needs to get a no.
Why It’s So Hard to Say No
To be completely truthful, most of us want to say yes because we want to feel valuable and needed. We want to solve everyones problem so we can feel validated and up our self-worth. It’s an ego-stroking impulse which we must learn to control.
Don’t get me wrong, saying yes to the right things is incredibly beneficial not just to ourselves but to everyone around us. But it has to be the right thing for the right reason.
Ask yourself these TWO questions:
- If I say yes to this, to what will I have to say no?
- If I say yes to this, what will it do and how will that benefit others? Is it just to prove you can do it or to prove the doubters wrong?
So Practice Saying No
You’ll strengthen this tool just like anything else in your life. Learning to say no to most things is like wearing ankle weights all day long. Eventually you forget you have them on… until they come off. The yeses will suddenly be the things you notice the most and not the no’s. That’s how we change things.
If it’s not within the boundary of your goals… say no.