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Thirsty Thursdays: "No" is your new best friend

Thirsty Thursdays: "NO" is Your New Best Friend

Every child gets a trophy...because we forgot how to say no.  Everyone who tries out gets to be a cheerleader whether they have the actual skills or not...because we forgot how to say no.  Perfect Attendance Awards are embarassing.  How did we become such a culture of avoidance so that when we're confronted with these types of situations we forgot how to say no?  Where along our way in this culture did we forget all of the positive aspects to saying no?

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One of the biggest benefits that saying no to so many of the things that disrupt our lives is staying on point.  Do you find yourself compelled to check and respond to email in almost real-time?  Try saying no, and dedicating 30 minutes three times a day to email.  Do you always have an open door?  Try a 90-minute block of uninterrupted time mid-morning and another one early afternoon and watch how much you get done.  If you're in a team-based environment use one block of time for your work and one for the team.  Block out time on your's the same thing as saying "no" to a meeting invitation without having to decline one.  

In our conclusion we'll talk about how you embrace "no" while creating an environment where people are still free, open and encouraged to share new ideas and challenge the status quo.  But for now focus on how much work you'll get done adding a little bit of "NO" in your game.

Let's face it, if your kid isn't good enough to make the team that means that are not ready to compete at that level.  And in many instances putting them on a field where they don't belong can get them hurt. 

For us in the working world, giving in to all the diversions, interruptions, and distractions reduces the quality and often quantity of our work.  And this work includes all that we're responsible for from technical work to supervision to leadership.  And when we have deadlines to meet and not enough time what typically suffers?  It's the supervisory and leadership components of our jobs that we shortcut.  And for those of us that are in leadership roles and responsible for being a steward to the careers of our staff we not only deal in mediocrity for our outputs but now our teams suffer because they're robbed of an engaged, active and caring leader who has and takes the time to care for their careers.  

We're all smart.  I mean that.  We all have a vision for our businesses, professional and personal lives.  If you haven't translated that vision into a plan go make one.  Now.  Seriously, you can't waffle around your whole life.

In that plan we have goals.  And if you're worth your salt your goals are ambitious, lofty, and challenging.  If not, they're what I call "cupcake" goals and achieving them just makes you feel good but doesn't advance the ball.  To achieve these goals you'll need to plan, plan for contingencies, and work your butt off.  

If your vision, plan and goals are important to you, and you consider them your life's roadmap, then every single time you say "NO" to distractions, competing goals or interruptions you are saying "YES" to continue to pursue the most impoart goals in your life.  It sounds simple because it really is that simple.  Keep your eye on the prize!

Of course you can't say "no" all the time for everything.


This happens to be my little girl's favorite word. Seeing a 21-month old employ on of the most powerful words across every language is enlightening. Life is really simple for her; if it's not important to her she has no intention to do it and she says so.  With the dozens of priorities on our shoulders, compounded by the hundreds of interruptions that bombard us all day long, our "yes" culture continues to help time close in around us.

But it is important to course correct when necessary.  Course corrections come from inputs on new ideas from staff, family, technological developments, client needs, and the changing landscape of life and the new challenges that it throws at us each day.  Then how do we strike a balance between protecting our life's roadmap by embracing "NO" and being open and encouraging course corrections?

Objective #1 always has to be Protect the Plan.  When seeking to introduce controlled distractions, it is helpful to create ways that new ideas can be shared and encouraged.  Establishing an email address for employees to share ideas lets you maintain focus on your immediate activities and read and address those ideas at a time you can choose.  Holding innovation contests, creating innovation teams, and delivering innovation talks to staff to help frame areas where change may be needed are some other tactics.  Incorporating some of this at home isn't a bad idea, either.  To the extent your finances permit it, both at home and in your business, create monetary rewards that share a percentage of the profits created or costs eliminated through the new ideas. 

Lastly, a word of guidance for executive leadership.  As you embrace "NO" to create stability, success and fanatical focus in your company, never forget your position intimidates others.  For staff to be able to feel comfortable and not threatened by sharing ideas, you must be constantly aware of your words, actions and how you respond to every situation.  To that end I leave you with one piece of advice.  To create a culture where you're fanatically focused on the core business while also being open to the change needed to remain relevant and competitive in your space, whenever you are hearing the innovative ideas of others use one very simple response, "I want to say yes.  Now tell my why I should."

Thirsty Thursdays are about our collective thirst for learning and knowledge.  It’s not about Beer:30 [although HR4ALL is all for that, too!]  We hope this weekly nugget of knowledge opens your mind and gives you a reason to pause and think differently.    Have a great weekend everyone! 

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