I have a confession to make. Once upon a time I was an unthinking “yes” girl. It did not matter what the personal cost of saying yes was. It was an unthinking reflex…if someone asked for something and I could do it, I would say “yes” regardless. And I would demure on tangible offers for help. I would battle to say “no” to any thing.
The first person who unwittingly changed that for me was a high-school friend’s mom, when one night I mentioned that I battle to say no to something as trivial as turning down an offer for a sorbet, she said: “There is always ‘no, thank you’ “. I am truly grateful to her for making that comment because it kindled a tiny ember in my soul, and as time has marched on I have become better at setting boundaries and moving away from co-dependent enabling.
The next biggest teaching about saying no in my life came from none other than John Carlton. He is a world-class copywriter who pulls no punches with the advice that he offers. In 2011 during our Costa Rican sojourn, I discovered his blog. And one day he challenged his readers to answer the question:
What is this magic word that can work such wonders for your productivity?
And while I was curious and in the comfort of our cabin I thought about the answer, I did not have the courage to answer in public. But I did pay attention to John’s post the next week where he revealed:
So, the answer to the quiz is about the foundation of your attitude, when it’s time to BE productive.
Learning to use this word the right way is how youset yourself up for success. This word will allow you to finally use all the other words — focus, motivation, discipline, work, gallons of coffee — to dig into your goal-oriented projects…
… protected from all the evil crap out there that yearns to destroy your productivity.
Because few people recognize the power of the word, or the best way to use it. Humans tend to be either spineless about it, or raving sociopaths.
We’ll discuss the sicko’s at some other point (and you DO need to be aware of them, and know how to deal with them, if you’re gonna be successful in biz).
Right now, however, I’m concerned with entrepreneurs and business owners who have a dysfunctional relationship with the word “no”.
Here’s the thing with “no”: You do not have to be an asshole to use it.
In fact, especially in business (and affairs of the heart), you are an asshole if you DON’T use it.
And this blew on the embers of the fire that was started nearly ten years before, but I still battled. Finally, after a couple of years of therapy I have started getting better at saying no.
Along the way I have realised that yes, no, “I don’t know”, and “I will think about it” are all equally acceptable answers to questions. And you can say no without offering an explanation or offense, and having boundaries is a very healthy thing.
Love and saying no,