Ascent Publication
Published in

Ascent Publication

You Need to Say “No” More

“If it’s not a ‘Hell yeah!’ it’s a no.” -Derek Sivers

It’s not the bad opportunities that will bring you down in your life.

It’s the “kinda cool” ones.

These are what will pile up and distract you from the hell-yeah, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that define your life’s legacy.

These kinda-cool opportunities are presented to us all the time. In fact, I just had another one fall into my lap yesterday.

My wife and I moved to South Korea for a year to teach English. I’ve made some friends with some Korean guys I’ve met on the basketball courts. Yesterday, one of them asked me if I would like to become a paid English-speaking basketball coach for young Korean players.

Paid to play basketball with kids.

Even the pay was pretty decent (far more than I was making at my high-paying corporate job back in America). The hours would be flexible. I would get paid to play basketball, something I love to do.

But….it sounded “kinda cool”.

“Might be fun.” “It could be interesting.”

And that’s where we risk everything.

Your Legacy is at Stake

“Success is 20 steps in one direction instead of 1 step in 20 directions.” -Benjamin P. Hardy

The larger mob of society— the group that will never truly be successful — live cluttered lives. They are floating in a river and are taken wherever their current circumstance chooses.

New job? OK! Potential romantic relationship? Why not! Business opportunity? Excellent, where do I sign?

But the risks here are enormous. Monumental.

You are risking your entire legacy.

In the words of Benjamin Foley: “The goal of life is not to relax on the beach, sipping mojitos all day. The purpose is to find something you love that also adds value to the world.

This is why we are here — to do work you love that adds value to the world. This work is difficult to find, and often requires lengthy self-reflection, trial-and-error, and enormous discipline to discover.

We will not discover our purpose if we are distracted by the minutia.

The minutia is the in-between. You’ll know you’ve found it you find yourself saying things like, “sounds interesting, maybe I’ll try that.” Or, “yeah, that could be cool.


Say no. Don’t do it.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” -Warren Buffet

What Saying “No” Looks Like

What happens when we say no to almost everything?

We are left with a smaller, yet infinitely higher quality.

Saying no to all the possible cuts of meat except the best means you’re left with only filet mignon.

Saying no to all potential dating partners except the best means living the rest of your days with your lifelong lover and best friend.

Saying no to all the business opportunities until the one means your next venture could set you up for a life of purpose and passion.

Don’t settle.

Don’t sacrifice your legacy for more of lesser quality.

Saying no is hard. I’ve had to turn down podcast invites, coaching opportunities, jobs, writing gigs, potential mentors, money

Because it wasn’t the best.

Sure, it was a big slice of chuck roast — but I’m waiting for the prime rib. And sure, everyone else around me is already eating their food…maybe they’re even laughing at me.

But once they see my plate finally arrive?

They’re gonna wish they had chosen my dish instead.

Avoid the Majority

Doing this immediately separates from you most the majority.

The majority sees an opportunity and takes “grab it and don’t let go!” They have a scarcity mindset. They think, “another chance like this might never come again” and take whatever is available.

You need to develop an abundance mindset. You need to believe those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are waiting for you, hoping you’re not already booked with lesser commitments.

I like comedian Jim Gaffigan’s bit about this idea. He describes stocking up on salad in the buffet line only to find his plate was too full for the bacon at the end. “I would have waited!” he moans.

But it’s too late. We committed to lesser quality and so relinquish our time, energy, and focus on what could have been the first step in building an empire.

In Conclusion

“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high that we miss it, but that our aim is too low and he hit it.” -Aristotle

What are those commitments you have in your life that are only “kinda cool?” What things are distracting you from what really matters?

What are some things you need to cut out entirely?

You won’t regret it.

Call to Action

If you liked this article, hit the little “heart” symbol.





Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Anthony Moore

Anthony Moore

Writer for CNBC, Business Insider, Fast Company, Thought Catalog, Yahoo! Finance, and you. Come say hey.