The Art of Saying No

Before I go on, you should know that I am not an expert and very much still working on this in my own life. In fact, I am a yes man. The most common answer you will hear out of my mouth is a yes. I am the opposite of what I want to encourage you to be. But, I am working on being a “no” person, because, as I will share, a yes person, while not inherently bad, can in many ways produce less successful fruit.

I find it interesting that our culture supports the “yes” mindset. We are told to jump on opportunities that come our way, try things because, well, yolo.

Shonda Rhimes, one of the greatest minds in television right now just wrote a book about her year of saying yes to everything. Yes is screamed at us from all sides in todays world. So why say no?

First lets define a couple words.

No — “not at all; to no extent”

Do — “to achieve or complete”

Not quite opposites but similar in the sense that one is an action of halting and one is the action of moving forward.

So why would we want to say no if it means we are halting or in other words causing something not to happen.


Let me ask you a question? Why do you say no to a friend or come up with excuses to not go out and see a movie or not go to a party? Is it because you want free time to yourself? Or you have others plans? Probably, and that boils down to freedom. You didn’t want your time to be constricted by anything other then what you wanted.

Let’s apply this same concept to your profession, or side hustle.

If you constantly say yes and go for the “do”, you will miss out on the freedom. Your time will be filled up with work stuff, busy schedules, projects, and deadlines, and you end up with no time for anything else.

None of this is bad, but you can miss out on a really big key component of success… doing things well.

The universal known idea that when we are rushed or busy, we miss things. We mess up. The old “haste makes waste” phrase.

Reading an article discussion with the renowned Malcolm Gladwell I caught this sentence:

In the end, though, greatness is about performance, not speed. It’s about the thing that’s produced, not the velocity with which it was produced.

It is NOT about the speed. It isn’t about cramming things into our days, trying to get as many things done as fast as possible. It is about doing a specific thing, and doing that thing well.

How do we get there? We say no.

To focus attention, energy, time, resources, and the like to reach success and bring something across the finish line, it’ll take saying no to adding another lunch meeting, helping your sister-in-law throw a surprise birthday party, and agreeing to work on that optional business contract.

And this is where I fail. I say yes to almost everything, I get rushed, I get cranky. Ultimately I miss out on many things because I am to caught up on what I said yes too. If I would’ve said no, my energy could be poured into more specific areas that I want to build up.

Heres a hint I am quickly learning as I work through saying no in my own life, the first time is the hardest. But once you surpass saying no once, it only gets easier. It provides its own sense of freedom.

How should we determine what to say no to?

That is up to every individual to figure out on their own? It might start with saying no to everything and slowly saying yes to one thing at a time. It might be more of a “does it meet a certain criteria” type thing. It’s all dependent on the individual and who they are.

So while the world is urging you and I to say yes, how are we creating freedom in our lives? Are we constantly saying yes to whatever comes our way?

Let me know in the comments below!

Joey Gamrat

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