Last night our leadership team skyped with a young leader in Brazil. (We had a video chat) He’s trying to embrace vision and choose a life-direction that will best leverage his skills and passions. During the conversation he reminded me of an email I sent him on January 2. Here’s some of the email.
I’ve been thinking about you and wondering if you’ve settled on any direction in life. I wonder if the hardest part of the process is the “no” part of saying “yes” to something. You know… when you say yes to a direction you have to say no to the other good directions you could choose.
I’ll set up a skype. Someone will be in touch. All the best in this New Year.
Choosing one career, business opportunity, life mate, college to attend, home to live in, or geographic location, closes the door on other immediate opportunities.
Leaders reach higher by courageously saying yes while letting go with a no.
An inability to say no is like chasing all the spilled marbles at the same time. In the end, we lose them all.
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As a leader, whether it be in the office or in your home, not only do you have to contend with saying ‘no’ to good things to be able to say ‘yes’ to better things, but you also have to counsel others to do the same. Getting others to say no and let go is often the more difficult task. As you point out, it takes counting the cost and courageously setting the direction.
Sam, I hadn’t thought about helping others say no… interesting idea. Any thoughts on how to do that? Maybe you should write a guest post
Saying yes to one thing is indeed always saying no to other possibilities. However, it’s more of a soft no. By saying yes to your top choice, you are not excluding the possibly of engaging in any of your other options in the future! You never know when tides may turn and things may change.
I once passed up opportunities to go back to school or get a lucrative bartending job in the French Quarter when the owner of the diner where I was working graveyard offered me a position in catering sales. I was ecstatic that he’d noticed me since, while being a waitress at a diner in the middle of the night with no support staff like dishwashers and hostesses but a surprisingly steady flow of customers is quite difficult work, it’s hard to really shine in that shift. Once in the position, my boss offered no training with the explanation that he spent a year training the previous girl, then she left to start her own business. Since I had no idea what to do, I ended up doing very little in the position besides spending more time with the owner. The situation culminated with him showing me a picture of his genitalia then taking me aside and chastising me after I told another employee about it. Shortly after that I quit. Luckily, I hadn’t burned bridges with my contacts in the Quarter and I took one of the bartending jobs until leaving the service industry to go back to school.
Every time I pursued one activity I said no to others, but ultimately I ended up getting every experience. Each one taught me valuable lessons that I could bring with me to the next job.
I wonder what path your young leader from Brazil ultimately took?