When to Say “No”

July 21, 2022

When to Say “No”

“Focusing is about saying no...It’s only by saying NO that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” – Steve Jobs

"No" is just a two-letter word, but it is often the most difficult to say. We hesitate to say “no” because of the fear of missing out. However, with the limited precious resources that we have–our time and our bodies, among other things–we need to learn when and how to say it.

Once we do, we can empower ourselves by putting value on our time and energy, and we are free to position ourselves to welcome “yes” opportunities that serve our goals and purpose.

Saying “no” is also a valuable lesson in respecting our limits. Sometimes what is asked of us is unreasonable and doesn’t align with our values and what we want to achieve. Other times, it is just beyond our means in terms of our current knowledge, capabilities, and resources.

You might be in a situation where you have to say “no” for now, because you know you can’t deliver and commit fully to an opportunity. Maybe you need more time to learn a new skill or develop a new system or technology to achieve it. It could be that you don’t have the capital to fund a project, and your client is presenting a budget that’s just not feasible, for now or ever.

If there is no way to negotiate a full “yes” that you feel confident in committing to, it is okay to say “no”. Don’t say “yes” at your expense. As Paulo Cohello said, “When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.”

And if it's something that doesn’t serve you and your goals, say “no”. You only have one body and a limited time to do the things that matter to you. Not every opportunity benefits you or your growth as a person or as a professional.

The fact of life is that every resource has a limit, and since they are limited, they are more precious. The law of supply and demand states that when supply is low and demand is high, things become expensive. Your time and energy are expensive. You are entitled to say “no”.

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, and non-apologetically—to say no to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger yes burning inside.” – Stephen Covey

Thank you for reading A Brilliant Tribe.