2016 – fall Issue

The Yes and No Balancing Act

Steve Jobs said, ?It?s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.? When I came across this quote, the idea of intentionally turning down opportunities seemed bizarre. As a business professional, mother, and active member of my community, I rarely declined an opportunity to be part of a worthy cause. Yes, I had a tendency to overcommit, but I kept myself organized with the help of several electronic calendars, fully loaded with reminders and alerts. The steady barrage of buzzing, beeping, and flashing kept me on my toes.

Eventually, I realized I was spreading myself too thin and discovered that when I said yes to one task, it meant there was less of me left for another task. It was time for a change, and I decided to hit the reset button. I would practice saying no in an effort to give more of myself to the most important tasks in life. Saying yes to the right things, rather than all things, was surprisingly refreshing.

In the business world, it is tempting to say yes to too many tasks. Growth and development are crucial to any business, yet if we fail to evaluate each of these tasks and simply say yes to everything, there will be less time, energy, and fewer resources to spend in more important areas. I read an article by Jim Collins titled, ?Best New Year?s Resolution? A ?Stop Doing? List,? that discusses three questions:

  1. What are you deeply passionate about?
  2. What are you genetically coded for ? what activities do you feel just ?made to do??
  3. What makes economic sense ? what can you make a living at?

Collins believes those who find an intersection of the three questions will have an exceptional work life. If our strategic planning efforts focus more on what our companies are passionate about and made to do, it may be easier to say no to tasks that derail us from our course. Keeping initiatives that we are most passionate about at the forefront of our commitments is a great way to provide purpose and fulfillment to our companies and our people.

Saying yes to the right commitments has given me the opportunity to participate in activities about which I am truly passionate. I mentored a woman who struggled with financial issues, and I joined a committee where I utilize my analytical skills. Time is one of our most precious resources and one that is far too easy to waste. Having the ability to say yes to the correct activities gives us energy in return and allows us to do what we were made to do. Although I haven?t fully mastered the art of saying no, I believe I am on the right path and celebrate even the smallest wins. In my opinion, small wins are a crucial step toward positive change for our businesses and us.