I’ve been hearing about getting on the “No Train” for years. And until very recently, I thought I was on it.
I thought I was clear on my priorities.
I thought I was protecting my time.
I thought I was saying no to the wrong things so that I could say yes to the right things.
So why, then, was I feeling like the things that I most wanted to put my attention on were slipping through my fingers?
During a recent workshop Darren Hardy, founder of Success Magazine, shared two quotes that got me just where I needed to be gotten.
“For every 100 great opportunities, I say no 99 times.” ~Warren Buffet
“I’m as proud of what we don’t do as what we do.” ~Steve Jobs
Woah Nelly! Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs didn’t just start saying no when they got to the top. They got to the top by saying no.
As I sat in the workshop taking copious notes, I realized that since my book launched I’ve been operating under the assumption that at some point the requests to do things would taper off. At that point, my schedule would clear up and I could re-focus on the things that I really wanted to focus on.
As soon as this thought materialized I immediately knew how silly it was. The wonderful opportunities are never going to slow down. In fact, they’re likely going to speed up!If we wait for a pause in other people’s requests to reclaim our time, we’ll be waiting forever.
I know I want to spend more time at home. I know that I don’t want to spend another winter on a plane every single week. I know I want to write more and re-focus on nurturing and growing The Freedom Family.
Yet I was waiting for other people to stop asking me to do things before giving myself permission to clear my schedule and lovingly choose which things to put back in.
You know those moments after which you’ll never see the world the same again? This was one of those.
Per Darren’s suggestion, Mike and I made a list of every single one of our priorities. Then we narrowed it down to the top three. And then we threw out the rest of the list.
I felt like I’d had three shots of espresso even though all I’d been drinking was water.
That was two weeks ago. Ever since then, when an email comes in asking me to do something, all I have to do is check those three priorities. If it doesn’t fit in with them (and if my soul isn’t giving me a very strong yes) then I say no.
The amount of mental distraction and email clutter this has eliminated is remarkable.
Every time I say no I get a little spritz of freedom and also a little spritz of guilt or fear. They both exist. So I decided to investigate how I might shrink that spritzer bottle of guilt and fear. That stuff just isn’t good for growth.
Since I’m not so special, I bet you can relate to these.
Reasons We Don’t Say No
1. I won’t be liked.
It’s true. When we reset our compass to our own agenda and stop calibrating true north based on other people’s needs, some of them won’t like us. I’m still getting used to this. It’s not easy, but my freedom and happiness, as well as my full presence with the people closest to me, is worth pissing off a few folks.
2. They’ll forget about me.
Every time I say no to a speaking gig I worry that I’ll be forgotten about. But then I remember Steve Jobs and Warren Buffet. And unless it’s a “Hell yes!” I say no. I also remember that sometimes the best stuff is hard to get. And I’m some of the best stuff.
3. I’ll miss out on something.
At any given moment, each one of us is missing out on 99.9% of what’s going on around the world. But the real joy comes from being so present to what we are actually doing that whatever else might be going on is easily forgotten.
4. I’ll let someone down.
What I’ve found is that I let people down far more often when I say yes and then don’t follow through, or half-ass it. Plus, when I’m on the receiving end of no’s, I often feel grateful instead of let down. Giving someone a clear no is a sign of respect.
So there you have it. The top four reasons we don’t say no and a little rebuttal for each. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to keep this list nearby. When my gut is telling me no but my ego is looking for validation, I shall refer to it and remind myself of the truth.
Over to you:
What are some of the reasons you don’t say no? How does it feel when you do say no? Have you ever said yes when you really wanted to say no?
Tell me about it in the comments below.