"The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes." - Tony Blair
It's been almost one year to the day where I had the opportunity to meet Oprah Winfrey. Anyone who knows me, knows that I absolutely love her. It was an awesome time experiencing her "The Life You Want Tour." I had so many "a-ha" moments. I remember hearing her talk about the power of NO. She mentioned that she had a difficult time telling people "NO." She said that she was afraid to do that because people may talk about her, may not want talk to her anymore, or even be her friend anymore. She said that she made a conscious decision that the next person who asked her to do something that she didn't want to do, she would tell them "NO." The next person just happened to be someone famous that she really respected. He asked her to participate in a charity event. First, how can you say "NO" to charity. Even though it was for a great cause, it wasn't something that Oprah wanted to do. So instead, she stuck to her guns and said, "NO." She said that even though it was difficult saying "NO," realized that none of her fears came true. The person didn't end their friendship, he didn't stop talking to her, and it didn't change his perception of her. She talked about how liberating it was for her.
As she told her story, I shook my head in agreement. I must admit, I feel the same way too. I try to live a life where I don't do what I don't really want to do. I don't have a problem saying "NO" when someone ask something of me that I really don't want to do. It's actually worse to say "YES" because now I'm committing to do something that I may not want to do. I think going through my battles with cancer helped me realize that life is too short and I shouldn't have to spend it doing the things I don't want to. It just took me some time to not have guilt associated with the NO.
It just so happened that the other day I was having a conversation with my coach/friend. Somewhere in the conversation, I told her about this and how I don't have a problem saying "NO" to people anymore. I also shared how liberating it has been to live that way. She stopped me dead in my tracks when she reminded me that I truly haven't mastered the "NO." "Huh? What do you mean? I don't have a problem saying "NO" to people." She said that if I truly had mastered the "NO," some of the things that I need to do for myself would be done. For instance, I've been dealing with dizziness for the past 3.5 months. I haven't been able to make it to the therapist to see if they could help me because I've been so busy at work. I've missed three appointments so far. I hadn't thought about it this way, but I get what's she's saying. It's not just about saying "NO" to something, but saying "YES" to me. Now, I realize that I do need my job in order to pay my bills and continue living the lifestyle that I do, but I do know that my health is important. It wouldn't do me any good having a job and not my health. I have to look out for myself, say "YES" to Andrea. As my coach would say, if something were to happen to me, my job will have a moment of silence right before the introduce the next person to replace me. I have to realize that it is my responsibility to put myself first because no one else will. If I don't take care of me, I can't be any good to anyone else. I guess I need to practice the art of saying "NO" a little better.
As I strive to do a better job myself, I ask that you reflect on the following questions this week:
Q: WHAT DO YOU NEED TO SAY "NO" TO? WHAT KEEPS YOU FROM SAYING "NO" TODAY? WHEN WILL YOU START SAYING "NO" TO SOMEONE AND "YES" TO YOU?