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Why Saying No Is Saying Yes to Success

Busier doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to your career.

I love this quote by Warren Buffet: “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” 

Let that sink in. It’s important. It’s also really, really hard for many meeting professionals.

I get it. You want to be helpful. You want to be a team player. You want to get accolades for being a “yes” person. You like staying crazy busy. The flip side to that coin is that, when you say yes to everything, you may not leave room for opportunities that come up, and your time management strategy flies out the window.

To be on top of your game, you need to keep your sights on high-priority activities that take you closer to your goals each day. You need to keep a careful eye on your bandwidth at any given time on any given day. Neither is possible if you’re always taking on whatever comes your way.

Here are a few ways saying “no” can lead to a bigger success “yes”:

  • It eliminates distractions and keeps the focus on your goals.
  • It allows you to use your time and talent resources more effectively.
  • It puts you on a path to be a more focused leader.
  • It narrows your choices so you can keep your focus crystal clear.
  • It preserve your physical and mental energy.
  • It allows you to fail faster (and yes, that’s a good thing).
  • It allows you to fail smarter. (You have to love a great learning curve!)
  • It makes you more honest. (How many times did you really want to say “no”?)

Saying no when people ask you to help them with projects or attend an event doesn’t make you rude, or a bad friend, or a bad team member. It keeps you on track. I often say that you don’t have time to do everything; you only have time to do what matters.

“But Neen!” you cry, “It’s so hard to say no.” Here’s any easy way to turn down something that’s not going to move you toward your goals. Say, “Thank you for your kind invitation; however, I am unable to join you.” That’s it. Don’t overcomplicate it. Don’t throw excuses or fibs at it. Just say, kindly and politely, “No thank you.”

In his book, Anything You Want, Derek Sivers writes, “When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say, ‘Hell yeah!’” I love that, and you should too. Why? Because everyone’s life deserves a whole lot more “Hell yeah” moments.

Say no to the things that don’t take you closer to your goals, get you excited, make you want to jump out of bed, or move you forward. That way there is room to say yes to all the things that do. I’d love to hear your thoughts—share them with us below!

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