“No” is a complete response.

I had the great pleasure of spending sometime this week with a friend and colleague, Deborah Siegel, PhD.  While talking with Deborah, she shared something amazing. She said she has a place in her office where she marks down when she says ‘no.’

So why is saying no a big deal?  Because most of us, especially women, struggle with saying ‘no’, and saying no without having to explain why, etc.  The ramifications can be significant when we fail to draw, and stick to the boundaries we need to be successful on our own terms.  Here is a perfect example involving my own lapse.  I over committed in the last few months.  Some of the stuff I committed to I love and would do anytime I was asked.  Some of it was because I felt I ‘should’ even though time wise I knew it would mean 4am or 5am starts to the work day and 11pm ends to the work day.  What happened was due to being over committed, over worked, and under rested I began to slip up on things.

Specifics…The May TEDx event I organized and ran required a lot of work pre, during and post event work with caterers, budgets, social media, ticket sales, accounting, speakers, etc.  I LOVED doing that event, and deeply enjoyed the speakers that come on board.  Being over committed I was not able to fully entrench myself the way I wanted to.  Also updating TEDx web site required text often happened prior to 5am or after 10pm, or even on the fly via my cell phone, not ideal.  And yes, I did it at 100 mph and managed to misspell one of the speaker’s name, not only in the original program for the event, but also on the TEDx video bio.  I guarantee you this would not have happened if I had not over committed to things that really weren’t as meaningful and/or valuable.  I got lucky, the speaker, Katy Hansell, caught it prior to the program going to print, and on the web site, which I then updated.  Even luckier for me, is Katy is truly a generous person and made me feel like I was not an idiot for screwing it up.  But we all know that doesn’t always happen, and very often people will zoom in on the 1% you missed rather than the 99% amazing stuff you got done.

All this is to say, saying ‘no’ not only supports you, your mission, your business/employer, your family, etc. by empowering you to give your best, it is also a necessary thing to do.  The word “no” does not require an explanation, nor does it need to involve feeling bad.  One of the greatest lies in our culture is that we should be able to do everything, all the time and be the most amazing person in the history of the world at it.  WRONG.  You should do what you do best, and leave the other stuff to someone else who can do it best.  Saying ‘no’ not only helps you up your game, it allows someone else to shine with the opportunity you are turning down.

And yes, I am now proudly tracking when I say ‘no.’

Want to check out the two amazing women noted in this post?  Visit Deborah Siegel, PhD, she does amazing things, by clicking here.  And visit Katy Hansell, who also does amazing things by clicking here.