Are you afraid of saying “no“?
Have you seen the movie Yes Man?
It’s a refreshing reminder of how we can be more open minded, take more chances and explore something new.
I’m absolutely for that, I myself go and do so many different things - from sports to languages, from performance arts to stock market investing. It’s how I attempted to form two startups and how I specialised in both Product Management and Marketing, and continue to learn further.
Curiosity is the key to advancement and new opportunities. Make sure you feed it!
Still though, how many things can you take on at the same time? How many hours of your 24h day can you allocate to something new? What about two new things? How much can you delay a product launch because of new requests and how many emails can you read per day?
If the answer is “not that many“, then the outcome will either be not that good or not that fast, and at the end of the day you and the people who put trust in you will be not that happy.
Well, there is nothing wrong with spending less time on something and still doing it - as long as you are straight with yourself and the others about it. After all, some journeys last years and some mountains can only be climbed one step at a time.
But if you are the type of person who likes to dive in and give it all, then, unfortunately, you can only commit to so many things at a time. Personally and professionally.
Saying “no“ is hard, because we often can’t articulate “why not?“ Becoming more aware of yourself, your priorities and your resources - time, capabilities, desires - will help you easily know if you can or cannot take on something new right now.
Also, “no” doesn’t have to mean never, it can simply mean not right now. Maybe next week, maybe in a month, maybe after I have my coffee. People often fail to communicate that or fail to further ask “but why not, what is the problem?“. Zoom out of the moment and you will see more options than the strict yes or no.
We think that hearing “no“ will hurt the other person or make them dislike us. It may, for a second, but the alternative is much worse - us not meeting our commitment or meeting it at the expense of something else or someone else. Seen from this angle, refusing to commit not only prevents long-term pain, but also preserves our relationships others.
Michelangelo once said about creating David:
“The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.”
By chiselling away the excess, by saying “no“ to it, he created a masterpiece.
Be honest, explain your situation and if you have to - say no. You will build a better life, better products and have better relationships with the people around you.