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Daily Leadership Thought #122 – Know When To Say No


Just about everyone I know these days feels like there is too much to do and not enough time to do it in.  They speak to the virtues of life balance but bemoan the difficulty of making this happen in their own life.  The problem isn’t time.  The problem is how an individual views time and how they make decisions given this perspective.   How many books or articles do we have to read about someone who all of sudden has minimal time left to live and they achieve clarity about what’s important before we get the lesson?   When there is a true sense of urgency about time much of the unimportant stuff falls by the wayside.  When there is a lack of time it becomes easier to know when to say “NO.”  It also becomes much easier to say “YES” to the right things.

If you took a step back and honestly viewed your life and the perceived lack of time, you’d find that most of the stresses around time management are self-imposed:

  • We spend too much money of things that won’t make us happy then end up working too hard and stressing out trying to pay for them;
  • We unwisely live in the moments of instant gratification when it comes to our diet and lifestyle habits and then avoid the level of exercise necessary to make up for these decisions; 
  • We make career choices based on what other’s think rather than what truly ignites our passions and talents; 
  • We tell the boss what he/she wants to hear rather than being honest with them and ourselves;
  • We tell the spouse/partner what he/she wants to hear rather than being honest with them and ourselves;
  • We volunteer for too many causes and then can’t spend sufficient time on any one; 
  • We sign our kids up for too many activities and struggle with the logistics associated with these decisions (By the way, living vicariously through your children is harmful to them and mentally unhealthy for you);
  • We stay connected to the people who bring us down at the expense of investing in people who lift us up;
  • We take on the problems/troubles of others while ignoring our own issues.

I understand how difficult it is to say NO when you’ve been conditioned to say “YES”.  It seems so much easier to just say “YES” and deal with the consequences later, but in reality it is not easier.  Time is finite.  Once it’s spent you never get it back.  Spend your time wisely.  Say “YES” to the people and opportunities that truly matter to you.  Avoid distractions and the inevitable gravitational pull of the unimportant and/or non-productive.  Ground yourself in a personal value system that guides your judgment and lessens your load by freeing you up to say “NO.”  When all is said and done, how we spend our time will be the primary gauge of the quality of our life.

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