I know the title of this blog post might throw off my regular reader (since I’m always preaching about being positive and having the affirmative attitude towards life), but before you jump to any conclusions, I want you to realize that the outcome of saying “NO” is a positive one!
When I started my consulting practice, I was hungry for business, I wanted to knock on every door, answer every RFP, take all the calls, cater to every workshop, … basically, I wanted to do everything all at once! Don’t worry, I didn’t lose that hunger, nor am I asking you to be any less passionate about your business – all I’m saying is that in order to grow, sometimes you have to say “No”.
How so? The answer is quite simple – think of the scenario where you end up saying “Yes” to every request … aside from the obvious overwhelming factor that you’re most likely to experience, what is the probability of delivering each request at the perfection it deserves? In my opinion, it certainly is much lower than the probability of having your energy poured into a manageable handful, right? So basically, if we follow that chain of logic, then turning down a couple of requests, and focusing on delivering a perfect turnkey solution in a handful, would certainly lead to future referrals, and hence grow your business. So saying “No” actually results in your business to grow.
However, saying “No” is not a mere gut feel – it’s actually a calculated “No”. Here’s my recommendation when it comes to deciding whether or not to take on a project:
STep 1 – CHECK WITH YOUR “VALUEs” COMPASS
Your personal values act like a compass in deciding whether or not to engage in a certain endeavor. Defying your values would certainly result in some sort of personal compromise … and that is against my personal branding principles.
The list of personal values is endless, but let me give you an example to elaborate on this recommendation. Suppose “family & friends” are on top of your value list, and the opportunity presented to you requires you to spend a whole year on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean. True, the financial compensation will probably be substantial, but the question is, “at what expense?”
Ok maybe I was too sentimental in my previous example, so let’s look at a more pragmatic one. Suppose “equality and fairness” are on top of your personal value list, and in the establishment you’re employed in, the managing director is randomly firing people with no just cause. Would you stay? Bearing in mind that you are really pampered in this company? and at what expense?
If the opportunity passes the value test, move to step 2.
Step 2 – SET & PRIORITIZE YOUR GOALS
Now that you got the value aspect covered, you need to make sure how the project you’re saying “Yes or No” to fit with your objectives. Needless to say, the extract phase of your personal brand clearly highlights that you have to lay down your SMART goals, for “A person who does not have goals is used by someone who does!”
So think of the opportunity presented to you: Does it really serve your purpose?Will it help you reach your goals faster? Does it divert you away from your destination? According to your prioritized goals, does this proposal come in too soon? Are there things you need to tackle before engaging yourself in such a step?
If the opportunity is aligned with your personal goals, proceed to step 3.
Step 3 – Measure the constraints & calculate the consequences of a new project
In any project, you need to look at three constraints: Scope, Resources, and Time. Can the constraints of the project be met? At what cost? Will it jeopardize the progress or delivery of another project on hand? Will I be removing resources currently dedicated to an existing venture to serve the new one?
If you pass step 3, then by all means, say “YES”, but if you fail at any step, and you plan is to grow, then know that you should say “NO” – Think About It!
When was the last time you said “No”? How did you come about that decision? Do you regret it? It would be great if you could share your personal experience with me!