“You’re just not that important.”
This was the best and hardest piece of advice I’ve ever unceremoniously received. It hurt. It was true. And it was a watershed moment.
I’ve written blogs about saying yes. I’ve written blogs about saying no. The truth is that it doesn’t matter if you say yes or no until you decide what the hell you actually want, and what the hell actually wants you.
You simply will never achieve your goals, walk through fire, and bring down walls if you don’t know where your superpowers lie. And the only way to determine where your superpowers lie is to know how you want to change yourself, your company, your community, or your country. And, if you are the best one to do it.
Take, for example, the school bake sale. You’ve been asked to chair it, but you also just found out that your kid is going through some middle school shit that would set even Regina George’s hair on fire. In the melee of your life bucketed as “Time for Family,” you think, “Well, I’ve been asked to chair this bake sale, and they told me that they really need me. So I guess I have to say yes to that. And my kids will see me serving their school and they’ll get it.”
Guess what? They won’t see it, and they won’t give a shit. All that they care about is that personal, life-altering, identification-seeding, exquisite pain happening in their teenage hearts.
You aren’t that important to the bake sale. You are that important to your kid, right now, today.
Other days it won’t matter as much. But today, in the shadow of the school dance, leadership election, or mathletes final, you are the sun, the moon, and the stars.
If you aren’t that important — and instead, it’s your broad ego being stroked rather than your specific skills being tapped — then say Hell No. It will allow you the space to say Hell Yes.
Because you see, it’s easy to say no when you know how to say yes. It’s easy to be that important. That’s when you show up big time for those people, those companies, those causes that matter to you. First, ask yourself, “If I’m not that important broadly, where am I that important specifically?” Then, double down the fuck out of that.