Some people need to learn how to say no. Because every time they say yes, they say no to themselves.”
― Danny Wallace, Yes Man
I was Danny Wallace. I was a Yes Man. My nature has always been to please people, often times at the expense of my own health. For years, I held on to this silly view point that saying no to people meant that I was a bad person. A dirty rotten scoundrel. A bad leader. A lousy friend. And most of all, a bad Christian. What I’ve learned is that saying no isn’t bad. Actually, saying no is good, and when you do so, I promise, you won’t be left standing outside of the “circle of trust” getting the Jack Barns (Robert De Niro) speech on being a bad person. In fact, saying no is vital to your health as a cultivator and stands to make you a better, healthier, husband, friend, leader, and cultivator.
The Energizer Bunny
Remember those Energizer Battery commercials? The ones with the rabbit that “keeps going and going and going?” I hate to say it, but that isn’t you and me. You can’t expect to go and go and go without falling flat on your face at some point. We possess a finite amount of energy that has to be replenished. Given that fact, we need to keep a close eye on the things we engage in and how much energy we expel. Every time you say yes to something, you’re giving away a portion of yourself and you need to be mindful of what you’re adding to your plate. Your body will tell you when it’s entered low power mode, it’s up to you to listen to it and recharge. Remember, you can’t water a garden with an empty watering can. A good friend provided me with some game-changing wisdom when he told me that in order to stay healthy you’ve got to say no to many things in order to say yes to some things.
The People Pleaser.
I love being involved with people and for the longest time I equated success and impact with the word “yes.” To put it simply, my motto was “yes is good, no is bad.” It’s great to be a people pleaser but you’ve got to realize that you can’t please everyone. I wrestle with this big time. This is what I’ve come to realize. When my plate is full and I begrudgingly say yes to someone just to please them, I’m actually doing them a disservice. Think about it- How much do you invest in something you know you shouldn’t have agreed to do? As a cultivator, realizing you can’t please everyone and knowing when to say no is vital to your growth and will have a tremendous effect on your kingdom impact.
Keeping It In The Fairway
Boundaries are important. Plain and simple. Without them, things get messy. Learning when to say no isn’t natural and is a discipline that needs to be developed over time. To me, saying no is as unnatural as a golf swing. I’ve played golf my whole life and it’s taken years to develop a swing that keeps me within the boundaries of the fairway. While learning the importance of saying no may not take years to develop, it’s a skill that will help keep you residing within the boundaries of healthy leadership and will help increase your level of Kingdom Impact.
One of the hardest things for me was realizing that telling someone no wasn’t a final answer and didn’t make me a poor leader. Remember, your time and energy are important to others and that will never change. In fact, it will only increase as you develop as a leader. Stop kidding yourself, you aren’t the energizer bunny and that’s perfectly fine. Saying no is healthy and helps with energy management. Know that you are wired to please people but you aren’t a people pleaser, there’s a difference. Pleasing people requires us to say no to things that aren’t vital to what we are committed to- managing our plates in a healthy manner. Finally, saying no is a healthy habit that takes work and discipline to develop but will help you stay within the fairways.
The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.
- Think of a time when you agreed to take on a task when you knew you shouldn’t have. How did you feel?
- List three struggles you face that keep you from telling people no?
- What areas in your life/ministry/work would learning to say no have a healthy impact?
Join the discussion! Pull up a chair, take a seat at The Round Table and share your thoughts.