getting better at saying no

Saying no is not at all easy, in fact, it’s one of the most important life skills that we can develop. As I have said before, an important contributor to the success that the extraordinary and the elite amongst us enjoy is what they don’t do versus what they do. What separates them from others is not about what they are constantly ‘doing’, but what they are constantly ‘not doing’. This is their secret sauce to unparalleled success and superhuman productivity. 

We have to train ourselves to let go of the people and things in our lives that just don’t matter and add significant value to our essential pursuits so that we are able to put 100% of our time, energy and attention into the things that bring meaning and joy to us. As Greg McKeown writes in his book Essentialism, “As with any ability, we start with limited experience. We are novices at ‘no.’ Then we learn a couple of basic techniques. We make mistakes. We learn from them. We develop more skills. We keep practicing. After a while we have a whole repertoire available at our disposal, and in time we have gained mastery of a type of social art form. We can handle almost any request from almost anybody with grace and dignity.”

Committing to too many things can be detrimental for our performance, productivity, happiness and well-being in the long run. That’s why the best thing that we can do for ourselves and for our perennial success is to say no to anything and everything that doesn’t contribute to our most important goals. 

In other words, it’s incredibly important that we accelerate our nos, and slow down our yeses. As Josh Billings once said, “Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.”