Why you need to stop saying yes


I used to think I’m a superhuman. I thought I could do everything, all the time and put 100% into each and every one of those things. The problem is, it’s not possible…and believe me, I tried. At one point I was the owner/operator of a restaurant with my brother, working for another company two hours away from the restaurant, starting a third company (Drummer’s Resource) and trying to practice 4 hours a day, tour and consult. I was effectively working 120 hours a week and wasn’t getting anything done. I was “busy”…not “focused”

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” ― Steve Jobs

Not a day goes by that I don’t get asked to be a part of something cool: A coffee meeting, a new business venture, a website launch, a consulting gig, etc. In years past I would have said yes…to all of them. That was until I realized how effective I can be if I limit my commitments and dedicate myself to 1 or 2 things, tops!

Unfortunately, every time you say yes to something you’re automatically saying no to something else. Say yes enough and you’ll scatter your time so far and wide that you won’t be focused on anything in particular and your results will prove it. Give 10% and you’ll get 10% back…no more, no less.

“To be everywhere is to be nowhere” — Seneca

My suggestion as you move into the new year: Be more protective of your time. Select a few things to commit to and say no to everything else. It sounds harsh and it may make you feel a little uncomfortable at first but you need to learn how to say no. Don’t apologize for it. Don’t feel bad about it. Just say no! It’s your time and you need to protect it like it’s your most valuable asset, because it is.

Now, make no mistake…I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever take that coffee meeting or help a friend in need, but you need to be very specific about what you say yes to. If you don’t you’ll find yourself so “busy” that you don’t have time to get anything done.

Remember, the key to progress is focus…