Is it possible that your inability to say no is compromising your health and wellbeing? According to research from the University of California in San Francisco the easier you can say no — the more likely you are to avoid stress and burnout. Both of which can trigger depression.
Learning to say no is one of the most important qualities of successful people. They have cultivated their comfort with declining others so that they can stay on track with their dreams. But why is it so hard for the rest of us?
Western, white America has created a culture where we place “nice” above authenticity and honesty. Rachel Simmons wrote a whole book, Odd Girl Out, about the culture of passive aggressive violence in America. Especially how it impacts girls. When we prioritize the cultural pressure to conform or fit in it makes us less likely to rock the boat. Whether we don’t want to disappoint others, are uncomfortable with conflict or have a deep seeded desire to belong, we’ve become hardwired to avoid telling hard truths and establishing healthy boundaries that allow us to succeed.
What we miss is that the strategy is actually in the no. As an innovator of color its an essential tool in your toolkit. It’s what you say no to that carves out the path to success. Your plate should always have space and room on it. I know, most of us don’t operate that way. But then when an incredible opportunity presents itself, one that you should take, you have to cram it onto an already full plate. Ensuring that you will not be able to successfully execute it. It’s time instead to embrace the no.
Here are three steps that will help you embrace the no as a way to accelerate your impact:
- You should being saying no 50% of the time. Ack!!! I can hear you cringing now. But if we’re going to be honest, 80% of what you do everyday are things you don’t want to do or really NEED to do. You've convinced yourself they are critical (or let someone else convince you). Time to stop.
- But like all great skills it takes practice. So to kick off I recommend a day or week (if you’re feeling gangsta about it) of no. You just say no to EVERYTHING in that window of time. It sounds harder than it is. Knowing how to say no in an honest way is key. Tell the truth.