“The successful man is the average man, focused.”
Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Is there too much to do and too little time? Are you spending all your time putting out fires instead of pursuing your passionate purpose and achieving your goals?
Does a one legged duck swim in circles?
Yes, thank you, Captain Obvious. We’re all busy and trying to do a million things. What’s your point?
(Get ready, big insight coming…)
You can’t do it all. You certainly can’t do it all well. You can’t even enjoy trying to do it all. So why do we try? Why do we fell guilty when we fail?
“Focusing is about saying No.”
― Steve Jobs
One of the easiest ways to get distracted is to say “yes” too much. We all want to be the “team player.” We don’t want to be called selfish, lazy, or rude. We want to say yes to our boss when she asks us to take on another project. We want to say yes to our colleagues who ask us for help.
But, will that help us get where we want to go? Is that the way to do our best work? Every time we say “yes” to what someone else wants from us, we are also saying “no” to time focussed on your goals and what you want.
We need to administer a healthy dose of Vitamin N every day. We need to be comfortable saying, “No.” We can be nice in how we say no, but we don’t need to act like we’re doing something horrible by saying no, either.
Here are some ways to say no:
Thanks for asking me, but I’m in the middle of a project right now that I need to finish by my deadline.
I’m not the best person to help on this one. That’s really Jim’s specialty.
I’ve already committed to X right now. I know you will do a great job.
I’m not able to set aside the time needed to do that well.
I’m honored you thought of me, but I’m not able to help on this one.
No, I’m not able to do that.
It will take some practice getting good at saying no, but it will change your life. Try it out. See how it feels. Say “no” to someone today. Say “no” to two people tomorrow. It is liberating.
We have a special rule on the smart phone at the Knapp house. Here it is:
“The phone is for our convenience, not for the caller’s.”
Just because someone calls, texts or emails you, doesn’t mean you have to answer it. You didn’t ask them to contact you and you are not required to immediately answer them. We don’t even look at the phone during dinner and family time. Later, we decide if, and when, we will return a call.
It’s one way we say “no” to demands on our time.
Does this sound rude to you? I used to feel that way. But another way to look at it is, would you let someone walk in your house, or place of business, and demand that you immediately meet their needs? Wouldn’t you call that rude?
This isn’t to suggest that you always say “no,” or that you never help out a co-worker or a friend. This isn’t carte blanche permission to say “no” to everyone. You will still say “yes” to your spouse, kids, boss, church, etc. but you won’t say it all the time.
The point is that you are strategic as to when you say “yes” and you make sure that “no” is not a dirty word. It will end up helping you, and everyone you care about, more than saying “yes” to all comers.
Give it a try and see what happens.