Be Creative: Just Say No!

[dc]O[/dc]ur kids have been taught to “Just say ‘No!'” Seems likes us adults could use some good no-no training as well. Some days I’m good at using the No-Word. Other days, I fail. Miserably. How good are you at the No-Word?

I believe how we practice the discipline of saying “No” has a huge impact on our focus, creativity, and ability to achieve a greater good.

A few days ago, a very good friend of mine asked me to write the foreword of his new book. Wow, I was honored. What a privilege. Any time you get asked to write the foreword for a book, it can make you look almost more important than the author who wrote it. As if you know more than he or she does. (yeah right!) What did I say?

I said, “No.”

At first glance you may be thinking, “Aw, com’on…what a loser! What kind of friend are you?”

I know. I know. I no.

Maybe I “should” have said “yes,” but then I would be ‘shoulding’ all over myself.

Instead, I just politely told my friend that if I say ‘yes,’ then I knew how much work I’d have in front of me. Any good introduction involves reading the whole book (and this wasn’t a short book), so I can have something somewhat intelligent, hopefully insightful to say about it. There’s a bit of integrity involved in writing a good introduction. And then there’s the writing. And I’m a slow writer. Done right, I know this would be at least a 3 day project. And so, that’s why I said “No.”

I also told my friend that I have several writing projects that I’m working on that need my focus and attention. Right now, my “yes” needs to be where my highest priorities are.

My friend was gracious and good-natured about declining his generous offer. But what would I have said if someone else had asked me? Someone who wasn’t a good friend? Would I have had such an easy time saying “no.” Or would I have hemmed and hawed? Would I have wondered how the person might think of me? Would my ego soar? Would I have felt loved, esteemed and important, so of course I must say “Yes!” Or would all of my people-pleasing gremlins started jumping up and down screaming, “You’ve got to say ‘yes’! You can’t say ‘no’! This will make you look so much better in their eyes and everyone who reads their book!” Blah. Blah. Blah.

Steven Covey once said, “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”

How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty: And Say Yes to More Time and What Matters to You Most by Patti Breitman and Connie Hatch is available on Amazon.

Questions: Is your ‘yes’ so BIG, that it makes everything else pale in comparison? How do you allow what is “good” to rob you of what is “best”? What are you saying “no” to today to fulfill your greater “yes”? How do all your “yes'” drain your time, enthusiasm and energy for the creative projects or dreams  you really want to pursue?

I know I’m not alone on this issue. I’d love your comments.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, snarky or off-topic.

  • David Meacham

    Thanks for this great reminder, Joey…focus pocus!

    • http://www.joeyo.org Joey O’Connor

      Thank Dave…I write to remind myself of things I needed to hear.

  • Daphne :

    This post reminds me of how Jesus could have said yes to all the “good” offers given.. but He said no to all of it, and chose the “best” route of all to Him; the way of the Cross. Shows me what prioritizing really is. Hmmm 🙂 thanks for the post!

    • https://profiles.google.com/107350086208954629499 Joey O’Connor

      This is so true Daphne…good insight! Thanks for your post!

    • http://www.joeyo.org Joey O’Connor

      This is so true Daphne…thanks for your insight! The ‘good’ is often the enemy of what’s best.

  • Pingback: 3 Creative Focus Questions for 2013 | Joey O'Connor | Art, Life & Faith()