Knowing when to say no
Bottom Line: A few years ago, I recalled passing on research from a top career coach expressing the importance of saying no. The logic was that in today’s busy business life we’re constantly confronted with proposed obligations and successful people are generally wired to say yes. As the guidance went, there’s a fine line between being available and over-burdened. If you’re over-burdened there’s a good a chance that at least some of your work will suffer. That’s obviously not ideal. The guidance was that it’s important to commit to less and do great work as opposed to doing more and turning out a bunch of mediocre results. It’s highly logical. You’re far more likely to have significant success doing your core tasks exceptionally well than going above and beyond with generally mediocre results. Still it’s hard for driven, successful people to know when to say no.
Karli Hindricks, the founder of Jabbatical, recently provided guidance about how she makes the decision in an interview with CNBC. She said that when something comes up she asks these three questions before making a decision:
- Will it help my business?
- Will it help my family?
- Will it help myself?
If the answer is no to all three it’s a no. If at least one of those is a yes, it’s a yes. Whether it’s those specific three questions or your own that apply more directly to your life, it’s a good idea. Define the parameters and stick to them. It could also help you rid yourself of a guilt complex if you’re used to saying yes to everything. After all, your family and your own well-being, aside from professional interests, are pretty important and that’s easy to forget in the day-to-day madness.