Over the course of my life, I have been offered innumerable opportunities to be a podcast guest, serve on a board or participate as a panelist for a think tank for my company. In years past, I would have jumped at each and every opportunity. After all, isn’t it a badge of honor to be the busiest person around?
As part of my maturation process as a man with the same 168 hours available each week as everyone else, I had to spend time reconciling the fact that I have the right to turn these opportunities down. Yes, I have the right to say no. You do, too.
Saying no can be difficult. We don’t want to let the asking party down, or maybe we believe (as I did) that I am superhuman and can do everything. I possess a very high energy level, yet that doesn’t translate into effectiveness when I take on too much. Through brutal self-examination, I learned I can capably handle two major projects and five minor endeavors at one time. Anything beyond that and I am about 80% effective.
By saying no to certain opportunities, I am free of the burden of trying to please everyone. The process I go through when a new opportunity is presented to me, I ask myself one question: Is my heart fully in it? And I must be willing to be honest with myself when I answer the question. The answer isn’t always immediately present. I take time to think about it. The opportunity might be something I believe in and support, but I don’t feel compelled to go all-in and commit. Commitment is key. Something that touches your heartstrings will keep you going when things get difficult, and they will get difficult.
I encourage the reader to take time to review how you are expending your energy. If you feel like the hamster on the wheel, it might be time to learn how to say no…