Yes or No?

How do you decide whether you should or shouldn’t do something? Apart from moral, legal, and ethical issues–when an opportunity comes up, how do you decide whether or not to do it?

This past week was a busy one for me. Leading up to having the final proof of Embracing Followership sent off to the printer on Friday meant that I needed to read through the entire book, twice. At 228 pages each time, that’s a lot of reading for me, and I read slowly.

How did I find the time to do so? I had to say no to other things that came up, things that may have been good and enjoyable, but which couldn’t take priority.

In Chapter 13, I talk about rest as a necessary resource for following with excellence, and I quote from Stephen Covey:

The greatest incentive to say no is to have an even greater yes burning inside you.

I had already said a firm yes to getting my book published, and the commitment and drive to meet my deadline provided a grid through which I could filter all other opportunities. Would they get in the way of me fulfilling this passion, this calling, this responsibility? If so, then they needed to be set aside for now…even if they were things that would be helpful and enjoyable. I could say no to those other good opportunities because I had another yes that lived even deeper inside of me.

This doesn’t mean that we should live only with a sense of tunnel vision, or that we should always rebuff the unexpected when it comes along. But it does mean that having a clear sense of what we should be doing (not simply what we can be doing) will help us to give priority to the things that we’ve determined we should be focusing on, keeping us from getting distracted or derailed so that we can do the things that we most truly and deeply care about.

What things are you currently saying yes to? Are those yeses competing with other things that you’d like to be saying yes to? Are you struggling to say no?

Take some time to reflect on and identify what the deep things are that are burning inside of you, the things that you should be saying yes to at the moment. And then, with confidence and courage, say no to the other good things in life which may come along and compete with you being and doing what you were created for.

You can read other excerpts from Embracing Followership here on this blog, and also explore other reflections, questions, and analogies related to following with excellence.

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