Daily Leadership Thought #122 – Know When To Say No

April 18, 2011

Learning to say 'NO' - French By Design | Words quotes, Inspirational words, Learning to say no

About everyone I know these days, feels like there is too much to do and not enough time to do it.  They speak to the virtues of life balance but bemoan the difficulty of making this happen in their own life.  The problem is not time.  The problem is how an individual views time and how they make decisions given this perspective.

How many books or articles do we have to read about someone who all of sudden has minimal time left to live and they achieve clarity about what is important before we get the lesson?   When there is a true sense of urgency about time, much of the unimportant stuff falls by the wayside.  When there is a lack of time, it becomes easier to know when to say “NO” which creates space to say “YES” to the right things.

If you took a step back and honestly viewed your life and the perceived lack of time, you would find that most of the stresses around time management are self-imposed:

  • We spend too much money on things that won’t make us happy only to end up working too hard and stressing out trying to pay for them
  • We live in the moment seeking instant gratification when it comes to our diet and lifestyle habits and then avoid doing the exercise necessary to make up for these decisions
  • We make career choices based on what others think rather than what truly ignites our passion and talents
  • We tell the boss what they want to hear rather than being honest with them and ourselves
  • We tell the spouse or partner what they want to hear rather than being honest with them and ourselves
  • We volunteer for too many causes and then can’t spend sufficient time on any one
  • We sign our kids up for too many activities and struggle with the logistics associated with these decisions
  • We stay connected to the people who bring us down rather than investing in people who lift us up
  • We take on the problems and troubles of others while ignoring our own issues

I understand how difficult it is to say NO when you have been conditioned to say “YES”.  It seems so much easier to just say “YES” and deal with the consequences later, but in reality, it is not easier.  Time is finite.  Once it is spent, you never get it back.  Spend your time wisely.  Say “YES” to the people and opportunities that truly matter to you.  Avoid distractions.  Ground yourself in a personal value system that guides your judgment and lessen your load by embracing your ability to say “NO.”