I'm beginning to learn more and more the power that comes with saying "No." I detail how (and why) to say "no" in Simplify Your Life, but I'll admit - turning down opportunities and offers is a constant struggle of mine. But, the feeling of saying "no" at the right time is powerful. Doing so can free you to focus on what matters and focus your energy on the tasks and events you're most exited about.
I wasn't sure whether to detail the following scenario here or in my Speak UP newsletter, but after much thought I concluded that the lessons I learned by saying "no" recently could benefit all my readers.
Last week, I turned down an all-expenses-paid trip to India. To speak. With entrepreneurs. Thousands of them.
I know what it looks like. I still can't help but cringe a bit as I type. I said "no" to a free trip to India to do what I love.
When the offer appeared in my inbox and I followed up (which was then followed by a bit of online research and poking around in my network), I was excited. But then the details began to shake out.
The event was at a time when I really need to be home with family. The travel - while paid for - would be long and not so glamorous. The time I'd actually have in India would be very limited. I wouldn't be compensated for speaking. The media opportunities promised might not work out in the best way. All in all, to have said yes would have been a significant cost in terms of money, time, and relationships.
After digging, it became easy to politely say "no" to this opportunity.
As soon as I hit send on the email declining the host organization's offer, I waited for the onslaught of regret to wash over me. But it never came. I thought I'd soon kick myself for wasting a chance to speak in India, but I never felt it.
I didn't feel regret because saying "no" was the right decision. My mind and body and heart and soul were at peace. I said "no" and moved on.
And here's the power of saying "no" to the opportunities that don't fit. There is no regret when you make the right decision. If the opportunity doesn't fit, doesn't help you, doesn't play to a strength of yours, or isn't all it seems to be, then declining it is okay. In fact, saying "yes" to it could be detrimental to your career, your sanity, or your family.
Best of all, saying "no" reinforces your values, both to others and yourself. When you say "no" to something, you're making a claim about what's important. In my case, saying "no" reinforced my commitment to my family and the time I'm spending to grow my speaking career. Many times, saying "no" conveys what we believe as much as saying "yes" does.
The main trick when we say "no", however, is to move on. Not all decisions will be as easy as mine. Some decisions will be much tougher and we could feel some pangs of remorse after turning someone or something down. In order to fight through that, we have to put the instance out of our minds. We said "no" and the case is closed. We can't look back and wonder.
If we do, we might inadvertently ignore that perfect "yes" that's coming our way.