I heard a great quote that say’s: “If you don’t tell your time where to go…someone else will!” If you are wired anything like me, at times, I have a hard time saying “NO.” Perhaps you do, too? I think it is more common than we think, especially for those who are leaders, and who are empathetic, nurturing, or generally care about people. We simply hate the thought of hurting someone else’s feelings or not trying to solve the problem. Most leaders are problem solvers!
Possibly, you don’t really notice this to be a problem, because you have had an assistant who says “no” for you. If someone has a request, they have to get through your assistant first. He or she filters all requests.
This gives you the buffer you need to consider the request more carefully. You let your assistant say “no” on your behalf. The fact that you don’t have to deliver the bad news keeps yourself focused, intentional, and productive.
However, if you’re like me, I don’t have an assistant. That means all requests are coming straight to me.
For example, a couple of weeks ago, a baseball coach (an acquaintance) who I met briefly at a ballpark last summer—sent me an email. He said: “I read your blog and follow you on Twitter. We met briefly last summer at a ballpark in South Carolina. I am going to be in Georgia next week and would really like to meet with you. I am in the middle of a personal challenge and could use some wise counsel. I know you are busy, but this is really important. It would mean the world if you could make time for me. Could I buy you breakfast, lunch, or just coffee to pick your brain?”
I ended up saying “yes”— and was kicking myself almost immediately. The lunch meeting ended up being totally unproductive. He didn’t come prepared. In fact, when it was all said and done, I had no idea what he really wanted.
The problem is that I am now getting more of these request weekly. It could be a full-time job if I let it. However, that’s not going to happen, thanks to the encouragement of my family and close friends. There is too much at stake. They are holding me accountable.
I have resolved to say “no” to many requests unless there is a really compelling reason to say “yes.” In other words, I have switched my default response from “yes” to “no.” Sure enough, I’m getting plenty of opportunities to practice!
As I was thinking about this today while enjoying my birthday, I was reminded again of why it is so important that a baseball coach or scout who is a leader, learns to say “no,” I made note to five reasons.
If we don’t make progress at saying “no,”….
- Taking ownership of other peoples’ priorities will take precedence over ours. Living “focused and being intentional,” begins to become “unfocused and unintentional.”
- Mere acquaintances—people we barely know!—will crowd out our time with God, family, teammates, and close friends in our life.
- We will not have the time we need for rest and recovery. We will never be an effective leader if we don’t prioritize proper rest and recovery for our life.
- We will end up frustrated and stressed. This will put undo stress on the team, players, coaches, and family that we are leading.
- We won’t be able to say “yes” to the really important things or the best things. The “good” becomes the enemy of the “best.”
This last one is a clincher for me. Every time we say “no” to something that is not important or not a priority, we are saying “yes” to something that is!
Question: Is there room for progress? If so, I encourage you that it’s OK to say “no” to some good things – so you can say “yes” to the best things!
How are you doing at saying “NO”? Comments below