To Be Successful, Saying “No” Isn’t a Bad Thing

A couple of years ago I decided to try Golfing. I’m a decent athlete and I tend to excel at most things I try — but not Golf.

Golf made an instant fool out of me because it wasn’t based on how fast you can do something or how quick you were — it was all about accuracy. The difference between a perfect stroke, and one that put the ball into the woods, was a very small change in positioning or grip. This tiny change however, was (for me) the difference in a perfectly straight drive, or a drive that put the ball off 100 yards in a totally different direction. I may not be good at Golf, but can yell “FOUR!” really well now.

This analogy is a really good description of basic decision making. While it’s easy to make a decision — much like it’s easy to swing a golf club, it can be very challenging to make a good decision — much like it’s very challenging to get a remotely good golf swing.

We all think that when someone asks us a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question that it’s an easy choice, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

After studying some of Americas most successful and balanced people I’ve realized every decision is thought about — thoroughly!

I’m not sure about you, but I love to help people! I was always offering to help a friend with whatever they needed, and would go out of my way to make things happen whenever they asked. We all love helping someone because it both makes us feel good, and helps them succeed. An unfortunate reality to this is giving up a lot of time, and that can be limiting our own success (or how quickly we can achieve success).

My mentor told me something several years ago that only really ‘clicked’ recently for me. He said, “Every time you say ‘yes’ to something you are saying ‘no’ to something else, and you need to know exactly what it is you’re saying ‘no’ to before you make your decision.” This is because there is only so much time in the day, and an entrepreneur’s list does nothing but grow faster and faster.

There is a great deal of wisdom in knowing that when you agree to do something, that you’re giving something up — it might be a task, or it might be saying no to free time in the evening to relax.

To be successful at anything in life it requires an incredible amount of time; that time might be for studying, research, coding, marketing, raising money, networking, or whatever, and by doing other things in the course of a day you might be delaying success little by little.

Clearly there is a balancing act to this, but understanding, “If I say yes to doing _____ then I am saying no to myself doing _____.” Being able know what I’m giving up specifically has not only helped me with making choices, but also helped me a lot in my planning/scheduling.