Say Yes to No

“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.”

– Zig Ziglar

Recently, a TEDx organizer contacted me about speaking.

I was thrilled; TED is on my bucket list.

But there was a problem. They had a specific topic they wanted me to address, and it wasn’t my topic.

I so wanted to say yes. That bucket list thing. But when I do speak at TED or anywhere for that matter, it needs to be about my life’s work––helping people and organizations grow. Paraphrasing Hamilton (we finally saw it over the holidays), I can’t throw away my shot.

There was also the secondary—or primary—consideration, depending on how you look at it: I would need to put in 100+ hours to prepare a speech of the quality I want—100 hours I wouldn’t be spending writing my next book.

Which I’ve committed to write in 2020.

We’ve all set some goals for 2020. Big things we want to do. And we will achieve a lot of them. But doing so requires saying “no” to some things. Not just to stuff we don’t want to do, but to some things we’d really like to do. Things that would be fun, gratifying or profitable to do.

But if we say yes to that immediate dopamine hit, we may be saying no to our higher priority goals.

It was hard. Angsty. But I said no.

They understood. I loved their graciousness. That’s interesting too. Part of why it’s hard to say no is that we will disappoint. But people do understand. That reminder was a lovely upshot of the conversation.

I love the Warren Buffett quote, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

So, what carrot is dangling in front of you, distracting you from big bold, 2020 goals?

That you need to say no to?

Our podcast guest is Claire Diaz Ortiz, an early Twitter employee and expert on social media. She’s recently written a book titled Social Media Success for Every Brand. If you, like me, are saying yes to social media because it helps with your why, you will want to listen to this podcast. We are giving away two copies of her book–––if you’d like to be eligible, you can hit return and say, “Social media helps me say yes to my why.”

Thank you for saying ‘yes’ to being here.

My best,

P.S. Tom McCallum offered a great insight on the “why” we talked about last week. In his experience, your why for others is also, at some level, the why for yourself. So, turn your why around and instead of saying, in my case, “I want to help people have a greater sense of who they are,” I would say, “I want to have a greater sense of who I am.” Thank you Tom for sharing that.

P.P.S. For practical advice on reviewing 2019 before moving to 2020, check out this piece by Kirsten Manley-Casmir.


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