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Say No More Often and Get More Done

Daphne Scott
November 15, 2016

I’ve had this one thing on my “to-do” list for about a month. I told a colleague of mine that I would get her a spreadsheet with the list of the presentations we’ve done for them to be archived. She emailed me once or twice and I replied with the obligatory, “oh yeah, I’ll try to get that to you shortly.”

What’s true is, based on my actions so far, is that I have zero intention of getting that list to her. What is also true is that I'm wasting a lot of energy not doing this task. Every now and then (typically at 3 AM) I’ll remind myself I haven’t done this and worry about how to get it done. I’m also walking around with a feeling of dread that she will email me again requesting the list and I’ll ruin our relationship.

We’ve all had this experience at one time or another. For the Conscious Leadership Group this sort of experience lives in the realm of being in integrity with ourselves and the practice of making and keeping clear agreements. What we mean by integrity is wholeness, not some moral judgment of right and wrong. (I know, you were thinking that I practiced all of these commitments perfectly didn’t you?)

What is also true is that making and keeping clear agreements is a practice and takes commitment (thus the name of the book). If you don’t think so, look at the things on your list. How many things are on there right now that you said you would do by a certain time and you haven’t done them? Exactly.

Now, there are a lot of solutions to this, but I want to give you three solid reasons to quit those agreements. Yes, three reasons to support you in getting them off of your list as quickly as possible and getting your energy back.

1. You probably said “yes” to one of them when really, you had a “no”. Think about someone inviting you to see your favorite recording artist or going to watch your favorite sports team in the playoffs. You know the feeling of “yes”. Getting this thing off of your list supports you in owning your actual “no”. This is a gift that we don’t give ourselves often enough. Get it off your list knowing that you didn’t want to do it in the first place.

2. You said “yes” out of fear of an unwanted future occurring if you didn’t say “yes”. That future could look like losing someone’s approval or feeling like you would lose control if you didn’t do it. Thus, your actual choice didn’t come from a place of presence but instead from a place of fear.

3. You may be providing yourself with one of the greatest growth experiences of your life. Now that is a bold statement. Consider it, though. What might be possible if you looked at that thing on your list and then said, “No, I’m not going to do this any time in the near future, if at all.” Of course, this may mean that you have to talk to someone about it and now all sorts of issues may arise (please see point number 2). And that’s the point. This is the opportunity for growth.

I am pleased to say that I had a whole body yes about writing this blog post. As a matter of fact, I had such a yes to writing it that the whole thing took me about 15 minutes. Which brings me to bonus point number 4.

4. Bonus reason: When you have more things on your list that you have a “yes” to doing, you don’t break agreements, you have more energy and your tasks actually flow right off your list.

What agreements will you say “no” to?

About the Author
Daphne Scott

Dr. Daphne Scott is a certified executive leadership coach with the Conscious Leadership Group. She was previously the Director of Leadership Development at Athletico Physical Therapy and is now the Chief Cultural Officer at Confluent Health. She also holds a Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and a Doctorate of Science in Physical Therapy from Andrews University. With over 18 years in active leadership and a background in clinical science, Daphne specializes in working within the complexities of large groups with an emphasis in healthcare. Her creative endeavors include performing comedy and recording her weekly podcast, The Super Fantastic Leadership Show.