The Power to Say No

“Focus is about saying no.” – Steve Jobs

“You have to be good at saying no and picking the things that really matter.” – Warren Buffet

Where does the power to say no come from?

Saying yes when you should say no lets others steer your life. Image of a person moving fast down a dirt road.

7 Comparisons:

  1. “Yes” expands your perspective. “No” sets you free.
  2. “Yes” expresses aspiration. “No” taps into meaning.
  3. “Yes” creates opportunity. “No” creates focus.
  4. “Yes” explores. “No” narrows.
  5. “Yes” increases learning. “No” reflects wisdom.
  6. “Yes” steps into risk. “No” sets boundaries.
  7. “Yes” requires energy. “No” protects energy.

Bonus: “Yes” goes wide. “No” enables you to go deep.


Every “yes” is an obligation. You end up overcommitted when you can’t say “no.” Examine yourself. Are you constantly late? Is there never enough time?

The freedom to turn down good opportunities comes from knowing who you are.

The person who knows who they are makes choices that narrow focus and expand fulfillment.

The power to say no comes from authenticity:

A person who doesn’t know who they are is gullible. Gullibility puts you in peril.

Authenticity protects you from manipulation. Bosses use ambition to manipulate people who don’t know who they are. The only thing that matters is getting ahead when you lose yourself to the opinion of others.

Your inner scorecard is more important than your outer scorecard. Focus less on what others think and more on what you think.

“It’s much better to aim low. I did not intend to get rich. I wanted to be independent. I just overshot.” Warren Buffet


#1. You learn who you are when you notice your energy. Authentic activities pull you forward, while inauthentic activities drag you down.

#2. You learn who you are when you monitor frustration. Recurring frustrations explain your values. Values show you what to do.

#3. You learn who you are when you practice humility. Humility is open and curious. Humility doesn’t seek to impress others.

Where does the power to say no come from?

Still curious about the power to say no:

The BIG YES Accelerates Leadership

The Ability to Say NO is the Power to do What Matters