The Power Of The Word No
I used to be really afraid of the word no.
In some cases, I still am.
When I first started working for myself and running my own businesses - which was well over fifteen years ago now - I felt like I was always operating at a deficit.
I didn’t have enough experience. I didn’t have enough confidence.
And I definitely didn't have enough money!
ETC ETC ETC
It was a stressful experience to constantly feel like if I turned down a certain job or walked away from a creative project because it wasn’t working for me, I might lose more than the job itself.
I was fearful of ruining relationships and becoming irrelevant. I was scared of losing good work and even better friendships.
I knew I was talented, but I regularly questioned whether I was good enough.
The truth is, I was travelling down a chaotic - and very crowded - road.
BURNOUT WITH A CAPITAL B
My love for the right work
I love to work and if you’re reading this, you do too.
WORKING IS EASY
When it comes down to it though, saying no has very little to do with the work.
Self-preservation is important because if you were to say yes to absolutely everything you might die!
Some of the best advice I've ever been given is to consider the fallout of my commitments. Because after all, commitments get in the way of other - potentially more meaningful - commitments.
Saying no is about making room for what you really want.
Simple enough. Easy?
It is so much easier said than done.
I started saying no and what followed was the question of whether I was making the right decision.
I might say no and find out I made a huge mistake!
I worried about how clients and customers would perceive me. I worried that my bottom line would suffer and so would my reputation. It made me feel nervous - to think I might be letting people down.
But that's really no way to run a business, never mind live your life.
I discovered the truth.
The world doesn’t end. And people get over it.
Create space for good things
When you start saying no, you actually get to start saying yes!
There was a space in time that I now like to call no mans land because I felt awkward and alone.
When I started saying no, some people did become disappointed in me.
Some people even got mad.
I learned that I had to trust my intuition and not take anything too personally. After all, these people felt frustrated and from their perspective, frustration might feel warranted.
In the end however, I realized it had very little to do with me.
By saying no, I opened the door for some of my clients, customers and cohorts to form stronger, more meaningful relationships with other people whose goals and personalities were more attuned to their own.
I created space for good things.
It might have seemed awkward and irresponsible at the time, but there is no easy way to do what's hard.
The positive side of the word no
All of a sudden, my world opened up.
The space I created for good things became refreshed and ready for new ideas to form.
I began to enjoy new relationships and they blossomed on the foundation of new boundaries. New projects began to take hold that suited not only my personal ethos, but my professional style.
I found myself ready to tackle the kinds of goals I couldn’t even imagine accomplishing months earlier and I realized that my inability to say no was severely impacting my real ability to become successful.
The more I said no, the better I got at assessing potential commitments quickly and efficiently.
In fact, the entire exercise forced me to get clear on my intentions and priorities.
These days, I say no a lot more than I say yes.
My work is better as a result.
With practice, I can tell you that it does get easier.
The side effects of saying no more often are surprisingly positive.
And wholeheartedly rewarding.