"The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes." - Tony Blair
My daughter is talented. She was recently accepted into Show Choir at her school. And she is up for a part in her first Middle School play.
The problem is she can't do both, because as her teacher so gently reminds her, "Sweetheart, you can't be in two places at once."
Thus, for the first time in her young life she is faced with hard choices. And she is learning to say "no."
You may see this as a silly example of decision making. Choosing between two great opportunities is NOT the end of the world. But I disagree. I think learning to say "no" to both good opportunities and bad is one of the hardest and most underrated skills in our personal and professional lives, especially for women.
For women, the culture tells us that we should try to be everything to everyone, regardless of the toll it takes on our minds, bodies, and souls. The culture tells us not to be too finicky because "this may be as good as it gets." The culture tells us that it is not "nice" to be "uppity," driven, and ambitious.
But I say, "Bull!"
Saying "no" is one of the most powerful things you can do in your life, precisely because it opens new doors to new realities. It also ensures that you are designing your own future vs. letting someone else architect your life.
All great leaders say "yes." They take risks, make deals, and embrace partnerships. But they also ruthlessly say "no" to people, opportunities, and issues that suck their time and energy and don't help them to achieve their dreams, ambitions, and goals.
Your homework: This week, say "no" to two things that aren't moving you forward and don't make you feel joyful, i.e. that you don't want or need to do. Build your self-confidence muscles and stand in your own power.