Why you should start saying "NO"

This is a repost of the blog I wrote for PHX StartUp Week which was published this past week.  Thank you PHX StartUp Week!


Saying “no” is a valuable tool when you are an entrepreneur and business owner. A good friend of mine, the Do You Guru - Robert Harrion, who survived an arduous battle with cancer, relayed a lesson he learned through his courageous battle. You must say no to the things that do not align with your life purpose. If you do not have a life purpose explicitly defined, find one. When you look back on your life, I am sure there have been moments that you have regretted saying yes to something when you should have said no. I bet you had a gut feeling that it was the wrong decision. Here are four reasons why you should stop saying yes to everything.

It’s the best way to manage your energy.

Managing our energy is as important as managing our time (see an entire post about this here). A fundamental limitation of every human is the need to recover energy that has been exhausted. If we do not, our bodies and mind will eventually break down. Using your energy on tasks that you should have said no to will divert your energy from tasks that are most important to you. I highly recommend reading “The Power of Full Engagement” by James E. Loehr for more on this subject.

It will provide you with more opportunities.

This might seem counter-intuitive at first, but it’s not. When we say yes to the things that don’t align with our goals and aspirations, we’re saying no to potential future opportunities that we’re better suited for. It’s always helpful to think in the long term when making decisions. Kenny Nguyen, the CEO and Founder of Big Fish Presentations states, “I see the word “no” as a shield that can protect you from the wrong opportunities.” The challenge is knowing what projects you should say no to. Always return to your purpose and your goals as a gauge, and pay attention to how the prospect makes you feel.

It will help you manage your stress

When you say yes to something that you should say no to, resentments and regrets can build. When I think of how harmful resentment is, I think of the quote from Nelson Mandela, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” You deal with enough stress as an entrepreneur; you certainly aren’t helping yourself by heaping on more. There have been numerous studies done which show that when a person is under considerable stress, they make poorer decisions. Say no to be healthier and make better decisions. Your future self will thank you.

It helps you value others as well as yourself.

What is your most valuable asset? Time. Our lives are finite, and we never know how much of it we’ll have. By valuing the time of others, it provides greater value to your day. If you agree to something that doesn’t feel right, you may not put your whole effort into it, in which case, saying no to something that doesn’t fit is the most respectful thing you can do. Learn to say no and stay focused.

Until Next Week,

Rich Decker - Mindful Accord

Rich Decker