The Power of No.

iStock_000019107144XSmallOne of my favorite songs is a top 10 tune from the 60s called Nobody but Me by The Human Beinz. The Human Beinz did not have an illustrious musical career, yet aside from crafting a great record, one of the things I liked about this catchy tune is that the song is laden with the word “no”, sung 31 times in a row.

No is a word that is not used directly often enough in business. Business leaders and people in general have such a hard time saying it, and they often suffer as a result of their desire to please. Often a leader may want to say no, but doesn’t want to be seen as negative, so he/she sends soft signals, and in so doing wastes their time and the time of others when a simple No would have provided better leadership.

“Saying No” is a Strumings topic I’ve discussed before, No. No. 1000 Times No. and it’s personal pet peeve.Here’s my bottom line– It’s OK to say No. In fact it’s healthy. Saying Yes to too many things is the enemy of focus and success.

It seems as if I am not the only person who believes in the power of No. I recently read an excellent piece called The Freedom of “No” from a smart lady named Mary Jo Asmus, who is an executive Coach. I don’t know Mary Jo but I like the way she thinks.

As do I, she also believes that the freedom of no allows a leader to focus—on things that are really important. We are all time and focus limited individuals. We have only so much bandwidth. Saying no to the unimportant, means saying yes to the important.

Mary Jo suggests 4 things to get the Freedom of No:

1.Set aside time to get organized.

I like this one. Time spent organizing is time very well spent. It allows you to prioritize and nthink more broadly.

2. Determine what to say “no” to.

This is really important. Don’t say no to everything. Just the things that are nice to dos, time wasters, off mission or just plain dumb.

3. Develop a strategy for communicating your “no.”

Saying no is often not popular, but think about the best way to say it, mean it, rationalize it and stick to it. And don’t waver. (When you’re in a jam just start singing the Human Beinz song. They’ll get the drift before the 31st No.)

4. Continually reassess your “no’s.”

Mary Jo’s thought here is to be sure that you constantly reassess your “nos” (and your “yeses”). Things change, priorities change. This is a never ending process

Mary Jo concludes by saying , “Saying no is an option you need to exercise regularly in order to focus on what’s most important. The feeling of freedom you get from it can be powerful.” Yes, it is Mary Jo.

Smart lady. No kidding.

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