Power Of No
“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” Warren Buffett.
No is a very underused word. Except by toddlers. Unfortunately, most of us forget the value and power of no as we leave toddlerhood behind. Our nurturing leads us to think of no as an impolite thing to say to people. The result? We’re overwhelmed by things we’ve said yes to. Things that take up lots of time and return little value to us and to those who requested things from us.
Have you ever gone out of your way to fulfill someone’s request and once you’ve completed it, they don’t even remember having asked you to do something for them?
There is only so much time and effort to go around so as Warren Buffett suggests, successful people fill the time and expend the effort only on those activities which are important for their success.
The rest of us waste time and effort on many things that impede success. Time and effort that could be spent on such productive things as…thinking.
Developing original ideas requires concentration. It requires uninterrupted time to work out the best solution, create an amazing product, or even write one of the best novels ever written.
James Joyce wrote Ulysses at the rate of about a hundred words a day. Each and every word required intense thought. He couldn’t do this if he multitasked or performed daily favors for others. You can’t become a great thinker without learning how to say no.
It’s not only your thinking that suffers if you can’t say no. As you agree to do more and more things that distract you from your important tasks, ironically, less and less gets done. You find yourself with a to-do list that’s endless and a collection of half finished projects. You lose your ability to prioritize properly so you spend more time on the last request than you do on your own important work.
Worst of all, once people realize no is not in your vocabulary, they ask you to do more and more. Your backlog grows and the things that are actually your most important tasks continue to be ignored.There is a solution. Release the toddler within you and regain the power of no. Take back control of your time and what you do with it. When asked to do something, instead of automatically saying yes, hold the request up against your value measure. Does it add value to you and move your important tasks and priorities forward or does it distract you from what you should be doing.
We all have limited time and energy. Don’t waste yours. If it doesn’t add value for you, don’t do it. Success comes from focusing on that which adds value. Become more successful. Relearn the power of no.