Why we must say no when we mean it

say no

It’s such a common struggle. I hear it from friends, clients, family. Two such tiny letters, such a small word and yet we load it with so much other meaning that ‘no’ suddenly becomes this oh-so-difficult word to utter.

And yet we must. Because we have limited resources. Each of us has a finite amount of energy, motivation, money and time to play with each day. And essentially every time we say yes to someone else we are saying no to ourselves as resources are being allocated elsewhere. Which is fine where we want to do it, where this feels like a good choice, where we have these resources to give. But where we don’t, where we say yes when inside we are screaming no, where it means we are overstretching ourselves or compromising our own happiness and sanity, then we need to learn to protect ourselves by using the ultimate power word effectively and authentically.

And let’s not be fooled into thinking that saying yes is the easy option. It feels like it at the time doesn’t it, when the prospect of saying no feels so hard? But consider the reality of the situation. The perhaps uncomfortable moment that you calmly and politely say no is over as soon as you walk away. But say yes and you walk away kicking yourself for not having the courage to say what you meant, fretting about how you are going to make that work and feeling resentful about this new pull on your time that you can’t really afford. That feeling can build and linger for days and days. So not the gentler option after all.

Our beliefs about no being a negative word are formed in childhood. But you are not that child on the time out step or the teenager at the back of the class anymore. Living a full, free and happy life as an adult, one where you are able to put yourself to the top of the list at times , requires you to change your relationship with this little word. Not to become a selfish monster but to be responsibly selfish in order to protect the things that matter to you. Not least your physical and mental health. It’s a much easier skill to master than you might think. If you can change the beliefs then you can change the action and with a little practice you’ll never walk away muttering under your breath again! Now how great would that be!

The next Power of No Masterclass runs on June 6th - see events page for details

Workplace hacks that work......

Someone recently challenged me to think of at least 5 tips that would make their day in the office easier that they might not have tried before and I LOVE a challenge so here goes…..

1. Break the phone habit

Find yourself absent-mindedly reaching for your smartphone when you should be concentrating. Pop an elastic band or hairband around. Having to move the band to get into the phone will interrupt your auto-pilot and make you consider whether you need to do this.

2.Hold your tongue

In a meeting supposedly listening to someone but find your brain racing off to create your reply. Our inner voice quietens when our tongue can’t move. Put your tongue firmly behind your top teeth and hold it there….you will find it easier to listen 

3.Snappy contacts

Always misplacing business cards? Become a demon networker by taking a quick snap of the card on your phone and you’ll never have that problem again

4.Concentration boost

Got an important document to write to a deadline to meet and find your mind wandering? Try playing Brainwaves music (you can find some on youtube) whilst you work - scientifically proven to improve your focus and it won’t interrupt your thoughts with lyrics or radio chit chat

5.Step away from the inbox

It may seem a good idea to start the day by replying to or sending emails, a nice easy task over a coffee. But that way you start the day by inviting more dialogue into your day which can often derail time meant for a focused task. Try working on your most important task first thing and save the emails for later 

6.Be the office hero

Just watched a colleague write on the whiteboard in permanent marker by mistake? Just find a whiteboard marker and go over the writing with it.Something genius happens between the two ink types that will make it possible to erase both together.

7. Come out from under the desk

Sick of crawling round under your desk trying to retrieve the laptop cable that wriggles away every time you unplug it? Grab a humble bulldog clip from the stationery cupboard, wrap the cable through the handles and clip it to your desk to keep it where you need it

What are your favourite tips for making working life easier? Go on, spill, I’d love to hear them!

It's a journey, not a race

I had to remind myself of this the other day. I had seen a post from someone who works in the same sphere as me and my little inner gremlin had jumped up and down at the chance to berate me good and proper. Unhelpful thoughts quickly filled my head. Comparison and derision quickly leading to self-doubt and a feeling that somehow I am not doing enough, that I am behind. 

I caught the little blighter in the act of sprinkling these toxic messages around my head like confetti and had a word with him (…or myself….whoever!) and the thoughts and associated feelings of inadequacy dissolved.

But on a weekend dedicated to competition with both the Grand National and The Boat Race gracing our screens I wanted to remind us all that life is a journey not a race. That always focusing on the end line, however you have defined that, robs you of enjoying the scenery along the way. That the journey is more important than the destination. That the journey is where the growth happens. That you can’t be where you want to eventually be yet as you haven’t acquired the right knowledge, met the right people, had the right experiences yet. You are exactly where you need to be right now. 

And when we think of life as a race then we do more, do it faster and it all becomes a bit of a blur as we check off actions that get us closer to the destination. We make choices that perhaps sacrifice happiness in the now for this promise of future happiness. We can feel as if it is not OK to slow down, to spend time where we are presently….because it is not ‘there’. 

We are in competition with no-one but ourselves and there is no time better than the now, because it is ours. So this weekend I am promising to continuing my personal journey of being the best version of me, and the best coach I can be. And I promise that I will open my eyes and appreciate the ride. I will find happiness in the now. I will be proud of where I have already got to rather than waiting for where I may one day be….

This is my life. This is my journey. This is not a race. Same applies to you……