5 Reasons You Need to Get Better at Saying No

Finding the Positive in the Negative

I have a hard time saying no. Perhaps you do, too. I think it is more common than we think, especially for those who are empathetic or nurturing. We just hate the thought of hurting someone else’s feelings.

It was a long time before I noticed this problem in myself. For most of my career, I’ve had administrative assistants who said no for me. If someone had a request, they had to get through them first.

This gave me the buffer I needed to consider the request more carefully. I then let my admin decline on my behalf. The fact that I didn’t have to deliver the bad news myself not only kept me focused and productive, it also helped preserve relationships.

But here’s the thing. I didn’t realize what a gift this was. When I left the corporate world, I figured I could make it fine without an admin. That meant the requests all came straight to me. And, left to my own devices, I said yes to far, far too many.

A third of the time I wanted to kick myself as soon as I said yes. Another third of the time I wanted to kick myself shortly afterward. How did I get myself into this mess?

Saying No has always been important, says William Ury in his book, The Power of a Positive No, but perhaps never as essential a skill as it is today. The reasons he lists are the ones I experienced. All my yeses meant I was overcommitted, shortchanging my relationships, and unable to do my best work.

I bet you can relate.

The Reason We Struggle

Why do we have such a hard time saying no? Ury says it’s because we want to protect our relationships, and that’s definitely a big part of it. But we even say yes to perfect strangers. I think it has to do with keeping up appearances. We want to appear helpful or can-do. But it’s a trap.

When we say yes too often, we tend to hurt our relationships. Not only that, but our performance suffers, so it’s impossible to keep up appearances. We let everyone down, especially ourselves.

After a while of fielding all my own requests, I decided I needed an administrative assistant again. But before I hired an admin, I started turning my no boat around on my own. How?

I resolved to say no to everything unless there was a compelling reason to say yes. I switched my default response from an affirmative to a negative. Things changed with just that determination, but I was able go even further when I wrote down five reasons for saying no.

Say No for a Better Yes

This list is the why behind the what. It turns out there are very good reasons for flexing your no muscle. If you struggle with this, I think these five reasons might help you as well.

Here’s what I wrote.

If I don’t say no,

  1. Other peoples’ priorities will take precedence over ours.
  2. Mere acquaintances-people we barely know!-will crowd out time with family and close friends.
  3. We will not have the time we need for rest and recovery.
  4. We will end up frustrated and stressed.
  5. We won’t be able to say yes to the really important things.

This last one was the clincher for me.

Here’s what Patti Breitman and Connie Hatch say in their book, How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty:

Out of guilt or fear of confrontation, we take on more projects, invest in someone else’s priorities. In the process, we dissipate our most valuable personal resources-time, energy, and money-on things that aren’t important to us. Each time we agree to something without enthusiasm for interest, we waste a little more of these precious resources.

Now let’s turn that around. Every time we say no to something that is not important, we are saying yes to something that is: our work, our relationships, our resources, our margin.

Every time we say NO to something that is not important, we are saying YES to something that is.

-MICHAEL HYATT

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Question: How often are you saying no? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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3 Ways to Go Further, Faster

The Secret Power of Sherpas, Experts, and Coaches

Years ago, I wrote a list of 100 Things I Want to Do Before I Die. It’s really an amazing, audacious list. Whenever I review it, I am both inspired and stunned by how many of the items I have already accomplished. And yet, there is so much more. The list keeps growing!

I’ll bet you have a list, too. Maybe you’ve written it down. Maybe not. But either way, you want to accomplish things. Really important things.

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Unfortunately, life is short. Or at least it feels that way. I have more to accomplish than I could do in seven lifetimes.

So how do you reclaim some of that time? How do you shortcut the process and make significant gains on your goals?

The Most Important Action You Can Take

I’m going to tell you the single most important action you can take to go further, faster and to make your dreams become reality. I have done this over and over again in my life.

To the extent I have achieved any level of success, I believe this is the secret. It’s something I learned from my dad.

Enlist the help of the best coaches and instructors you can afford.

Let’s be honest. Everyone needs a sherpa to get up the mountain. My assumption is that someone, somewhere has already done what you are attempting to do-and done it well. If you can tap into their experience and learn from it, you can get to where you want to go faster and with fewer missteps along the way.

There are basically three ways you can do this. I’ve arranged them from least expensive to most expensive. However, you can often find free alternatives if you look hard enough.

1. Read the Best, Most Relevant Information

My journey into uncharted territory always begins with a search on Google. There is a ton of free information on the web (obviously). This will give you a feel for who the experts are and what they have to say. If I want to go deeper, I then buy the best books I can find on a given topic.

For example, when I first took up digital photography, I bought the three books with the highest Amazon ranking and the best customer reviews. I did the same when I decided to start running. This is a relatively inexpensive way to learn the basics and get a broad working knowledge of the topic at hand.

But this step doesn’t just apply to new interests. I continue to read in areas where I am already proficient. I want to deepen my knowledge and keep my skills sharp. Think of it as continuing education for life.

2. Sign up for Specialized Classes

I have a short attention span, so full-length, longer-term courses don’t work for me. I get bored. I prefer the all-day, three-day, or (occasionally) a one-week course. For example:

  • When I wanted to learn how to build a great marriage, Gail and I attended several courses on marriage, some taught by Gary Smalley. [A bit of trivia: Gary and his wife, Norma, introduced Gail and me to each other. He actually performed our marriage ceremony.]

  • When I wanted to up my game on team alignment, I took a one-week course from Gap International called The Alignment Intensive. It blew my mind. I use the tools I learned in this course almost every day.

  • When I wanted to rethink what was possible in my business a few years ago, I attended Tony Robbins’ Business Mastery. I have been to several of Tony’s events, but this conference was a gift to me at that juncture in my career. It wasn’t cheap and the commitment was substantial. But it’s a whole lot less expensive than learning these lessons on my own.

  • When I wanted to improve my writing skills, I signed up for an intensive one-week course from American Writers & Artists, Inc.called, The Copywriting Success Bootcamp. This was one of the best professional investments I ever made. Similarly, I went through the Fast, Effective Copywriting course. It was worth every penny.

These are just a few examples of dozens I could cite. Some of these courses were free. Some cost a few hundred dollars. In a few rare instances, the courses cost several thousand dollars.

Regardless, you can sometimes find very good free or inexpensive courses taught by churches or other nonprofit organizations or even local colleges. Like I said, enlist the help of the best coaches and instructors you can afford.

3. Hire World Class Experts

Finally, I enlisted the help of real people who could hone my skills beyond what I could learn in a book or garner from a course. For example:

  • When I wanted to create sustainable work-life balance, I hired Daniel Harkavy, the president and founder of Building Champions. He helped me craft my very first life plan. Later on, we cowrote the book Living Forward to explain the life-planning process.

  • When I wanted to take my business to the next level, I hired Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach to help me think through obstacles and opportunities in new ways. It’s no exaggeration to say I use what I learn from Dan in my business every day.

  • When I wanted to take my personal leadership skills to the next level and really see how my own thinking was impacting my corporate results, I hired Ilene Meuthing of Gap International. She’s basically performed a brain transplant on me, helping me change my thinking and produce better outcomes.

  • When I wanted to figure out why I kept slicing my drives, I hired Nancy Quarcelino, one of the best golf teachers in the country, for a two-hour session. She videotaped me, so I could see the problem in my swing and fix it for good. Her personalized coaching bore immediate results. Though my game is still not all that great, it’s a lot better because of her coaching.

In addition, in the course of my life, I have hired personal trainers, nutritionists, counselors, music teachers, accountants, lawyers, fishing guides, agents, and various kinds of instructors and coaches. Some have been short-term; some have been long-term. My philosophy is to use them as long as they continue to provide value.

Don’t Let Resources Hold You Back

Again, note that I said, hire the best coaches and instructors you can afford For years, the most I could afford was to check out a book from the library. Don’t worry about what you can’t afford or do. Focus, instead, on what you can afford and start there.

The most valuable resources you have are determination and creativity. In my experience, the rest shows up as you go.

In the end, you can accomplish more than you ever thought possible. And you can do it faster and with better results if you just enlist the assistance of the right guide and do what they say. I can’t think of anything else that will help you accomplish your goals more than this.

The most valuable resources you have are determination and creativity.

-MICHAEL HYATT

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Question: What coach can you enlist today to enable you to accomplish your goals? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Why Keeping Commitments is Critical to Your Influence

3 Reasons Integrity Is Key to Your Success

When we think of someone with integrity, we think of someone we can count on to come through on what they promise. Unfortunately, that’s not always a safe bet today.

Over the last several years I’ve noticed a change in the way we use the word integrity. Having integrity requires staying true to your word-even if it’s difficult, inconvenient, or expensive. But today I hear more and more people using the word as if it means being true to themselves-even if that means leaving someone else to clean up the mess.

This might look like a win if we’re trying to save ourselves from difficulty and discomfort, but it will come back to bite us in the end. Nothing destroys our credibility faster than bailing on a commitment.

More to the Story

The phrase To thine own self be true comes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but it became popular through self-help books and programs. There’s nothing wrong with these words by themselves, but they’re usually taken out of context.

If you’ve ever read or seen the play, you know the full story. The phrase comes after advice about being prudent and preserving friendships. The idea is that we are true to ourselves so that others can count on what we say. It was about having true integrity.

But if you listen to the way people use it today, they usually mean something else. To thine own self be true is often used as an excuse to do whatever a person wants instead of what’s expected-or even what they’ve already committed to. This is suicide in business-and the rest of life.

Not only is integrity essential for strong friendships, it’s crucial for all of our relationships. Honesty, says Stephen Covey, is making your words conform to reality. Integrity is making reality conform to your words. We won’t get far in life without it.

Just think about your work. Without the kind of integrity Covey describes, you cannot be an effective leader. Why?

  1. Trust depends on integrity. If people can’t rely on your word, they won’t trust you. They may extend some grace, but eventually, people will doubt and disbelieve.
  2. Influence depends on trust. People will refuse the influence of leaders they distrust. Just look at how this plays out in politics or the media. We follow people we trust.
  3. Impact depends on influence. You can’t make the impact you want unless you can influence others and shift their behavior.

Now think of other relationships: marriage, parenting, church, whatever. The strength of our relationships is measured by how much people can count on us. If we’re not true to our words, that means our relationships will be as unreliable as we are.

The strength of our relationships is measured by how much people can count on us.

-MICHAEL HYATT

Tweet Quote

Not Without Cost

Yes, keeping our word can sometimes be very costly. I’ve had times in my career when it’s been very expensive to do the right thing. Once I had to pull the plug on a multimillion-dollar project we desperately needed to make our numbers.

Another time I had to uphold an exorbitant commitment of an executive I let go, even though he didn’t have the authority to make the agreement in the first place. The P&L was already hemorrhaging, but the cost of not following through would have been more expensive to the company in the long run.

There’s nothing wrong with asking to be released from a commitment. But if we can’t get free, then we need to make good on it. If we try living true to ourselves at the expense of others, it’ll cost us our relationships, our success, and ultimately everything of real and lasting value.

Question: What examples of true integrity have you witnessed in your own relationships? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

What It Takes to Become a Person of Influence

4 Simple Behaviors Any Leader Can Adopt

I was recently talking to a neighbor about an ordinance being considered by our city council. She didn’t like it and felt strongly that it shouldn’t pass. She went on to make the case to me, raising several valid points I had not considered before.

I reminded her that the city was holding a public hearing on the matter before the council voted and asked if she planned to attend. No, she immediately replied, I don’t have any influence.

Clearly, she misunderstood the nature of influence. Many of us do.

Most people think they can’t have influence without more reach, higher education, longer experience, better skills, or a bigger title. While all those are important and can increase your ability to influence others, none of them is essential.

So what is?

When it comes to influencing others, it really comes down to a solid foundation-something anyone can acquire. All you need are these four simple behaviors.

1. Be Present

In order to influence others, you have to be willing to show up. Before people can like or trust you, they have to know you. They can’t get to know you unless you give them the opportunity.

2. Be Consistent

You won’t be able to influence others if your beliefs and your behavior are not in alignment. The most difficult person to lead-and thus influence-is yourself. You don’t have to get it perfect. We are each a work in progress, but there has to be a fundamental integrity between our words and our actions. (I’ll share more about this on Wednesday.)

3. Be Empathetic

As the old saying goes, People don’t care what you think until they think you care. You have to be willing to listen without judgment (at least initially). You have to see the situation from the other person’s point of view.

4. Be Counted

You have to be willing to speak up. Your words won’t mean much if you:

  • don’t routinely show up
  • aren’t walking your talk
  • don’t listen

[These are in the order they are for a specific reason.]

Assuming you are not guilty of those things, you also have to find the courage to speak up. Sometimes it’s to lend support to an idea you believe in. Other times, like the case with my neighbor, it’s to challenge an idea you don’t believe in. Regardless, people can’t read your mind. Unless you speak up, you won’t have influence.

Before people can like or trust you, they have to know you.

-MICHAEL HYATT

Tweet Quote

There’s more to influence than these four behaviors, but they are the foundation. If you’re focusing on volume and views before these, you’re in trouble. But if any leader who adopts and develops these four behaviors will see results.

Question: Have you noticed that these behaviors are present in the people who have influenced you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Why Keeping Your Commitments Is Critical to Your Influence

3 Reasons Integrity Is Key to Your Success

When we think of someone with integrity, we think of someone we can count on to come through on what they promise. Unfortunately, that’s not always a safe bet today.

Over the last several years I’ve noticed a change in the way we use the word integrity. Having integrity requires staying true to your word-even if it’s difficult, inconvenient, or expensive. But today I hear more and more people using the word as if it means being true to themselves-even if that means leaving someone else to clean up the mess.

This might look like a win if we’re trying to save ourselves from difficulty and discomfort, but it will come back to bite us in the end. Nothing destroys our credibility faster than bailing on a commitment.

More to the Story

The phrase To thine own self be true comes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but it became popular through self-help books and programs. There’s nothing wrong with these words by themselves, but they’re usually taken out of context.

If you’ve ever read or seen the play, you know the full story. The phrase comes after advice about being prudent and preserving friendships. The idea is that we are true to ourselves so that others can count on what we say. It was about having true integrity.

But if you listen to the way people use it today, they usually mean something else. To thine own self be true is often used as an excuse to do whatever a person wants instead of what’s expected-or even what they’ve already committed to. This is suicide in business-and the rest of life.

Not only is integrity essential for strong friendships, it’s crucial for all of our relationships. Honesty, says Stephen Covey, is making your words conform to reality. Integrity is making reality conform to your words. We won’t get far in life without it.

Just think about your work. Without the kind of integrity Covey describes, you cannot be an effective leader. Why?

  1. Trust depends on integrity. If people can’t rely on your word, they won’t trust you. They may extend some grace, but eventually, people will doubt and disbelieve.
  2. Influence depends on trust. People will refuse the influence of leaders they distrust. Just look at how this plays out in politics or the media. We follow people we trust.
  3. Impact depends on influence. You can’t make the impact you want unless you can influence others and shift their behavior.

Now think of other relationships: marriage, parenting, church, whatever. The strength of our relationships is measured by how much people can count on us. If we’re not true to our words, that means our relationships will be as unreliable as we are.

The strength of our relationships is measured by how much people can count on us.

-MICHAEL HYATT

Tweet Quote

Not Without Cost

Yes, keeping our word can sometimes be very costly. I’ve had times in my career when it’s been very expensive to do the right thing. Once I had to pull the plug on a multimillion-dollar project we desperately needed to make our numbers.

Another time I had to uphold an exorbitant commitment of an executive I let go, even though he didn’t have the authority to make the agreement in the first place. The P&L was already hemorrhaging, but the cost of not following through would have been more expensive to the company in the long run.

There’s nothing wrong with asking to be released from a commitment. But if we can’t get free, then we need to make good on it. If we try living true to ourselves at the expense of others, it’ll cost us our relationships, our success, and ultimately everything of real and lasting value.

Question: What examples of true integrity have you witnessed in your own relationships? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

What It Takes to Become a Person of Influence

4 Simple Behaviors Any Leader Can Adopt

I was recently talking to a neighbor about an ordinance being considered by our city council. She didn’t like it and felt strongly that it shouldn’t pass. She went on to make the case to me, raising several valid points I had not considered before.

I reminded her that the city was holding a public hearing on the matter before the council voted and asked if she planned to attend. No, she immediately replied, I don’t have any influence.

Clearly, she misunderstood the nature of influence. Many of us do.

Most people think they can’t have influence without more reach, higher education, longer experience, better skills, or a bigger title. While all those are important and can increase your ability to influence others, none of them is essential.

So what is?

When it comes to influencing others, it really comes down to a solid foundation-something anyone can acquire. All you need are these four simple behaviors.

1. Be Present

In order to influence others, you have to be willing to show up. Before people can like or trust you, they have to know you. They can’t get to know you unless you give them the opportunity.

2. Be Consistent

You won’t be able to influence others if your beliefs and your behavior are not in alignment. The most difficult person to lead-and thus influence-is yourself. You don’t have to get it perfect. We are each a work in progress, but there has to be a fundamental integrity between our words and our actions. (I’ll share more about this on Wednesday.)

3. Be Empathetic

As the old saying goes, People don’t care what you think until they think you care. You have to be willing to listen without judgment (at least initially). You have to see the situation from the other person’s point of view.

4. Be Counted

You have to be willing to speak up. Your words won’t mean much if you:

  • don’t routinely show up
  • aren’t walking your talk
  • don’t listen

[These are in the order they are for a specific reason.]

Assuming you are not guilty of those things, you also have to find the courage to speak up. Sometimes it’s to lend support to an idea you believe in. Other times, like the case with my neighbor, it’s to challenge an idea you don’t believe in. Regardless, people can’t read your mind. Unless you speak up, you won’t have influence.

Before people can like or trust you, they have to know you.

-MICHAEL HYATT

Tweet Quote

There’s more to influence than these four behaviors, but they are the foundation. If you’re focusing on volume and views before these, you’re in trouble. But if any leader who adopts and develops these four behaviors will see results.

Question: Have you noticed that these behaviors are present in the people who have influenced you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Stuck for a Good Business Idea? Just Add Water!

Stuck for a Good Business Idea? Just Add Water!

Great ideas for an online business are everywhere. Your head’s full of them right now

Everything that has ever happened to you, good or bad, is a possible seed for a business especially the bad. Just add water and watch them grow!

Steve Jobs Connect the dots

Think of each experience in your life as a dot. Problems. Things you do over and over. What you’ve learned at school, on the streets, with a hobby. You get the idea – each is a dot.

Steve Jobs used to refer to getting ideas as connecting those dots

You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.

Natural Disaster Connects 2 Business Idea Dots

In 2004, back-to-back hurricanes left Susan and her family without power for weeks. Fresh food spoiled fast. Susan’s experience was one heck of a big dot!

It takes two dots to connect, though. Susan’s second dot occurred later. She heard Glenn Beck talk about how his family had stored dehydrated food in their basement for emergencies.

Eureka!

Easy Food Dehydrating was born. After a period of early growth followed by a downslide due to major changes at Google (Panda and Penguin), traffic has steadily grown since mid-2013, soaring way past her previous pre-P&P best.

Her traffic numbers put her well inside the Top 0.5% of all websites for traffic! No mean feat for someone who connected 2 dots after a hurricane.

SEMrush Graph

However you monetize, income will be proportional to traffic. Add in a wide range of products and one thing is clear there’s gold in them thar dots.

Many years ago, someone wrote the following to one of our advisors

This all sounds great, but what type of niche content could I possibly write? It’s hopeless. I’ve been 1) stuck at home for years because 2) I have to take care of 2 invalid parents.

You may see the 2 dots now that we’re writing about it. But this woman could not see that being stuck at home was an advantage – lots of time to work on an online business. Nor did she see the incredible wealth of knowledge/experience that she had accumulated, practical information that other boomers with aging parents would want desperately!

Dots often hide right under your nose!

Bottom Line Takeaway?

Everyone has dots, loads of them. Some are so obvious, it takes others to see them. Connect the dots to start your very own business some combination of life/job, hobbies, expertise from the job, random events you may experience or read about, etc.

Whatever it is, please understand two things

  1. It doesn’t have to be big or important or sexy to turn into a great business. Solopreneurs can profitably work narrow, winnable niches.
  2. The idea is planted in your fertile mind right now (along with many others). Just add the water of time and thought. Jot down everything you’ve done, know, experienced, whether good or bad (especially the bad – great business ideas often start with pain).

Inspired by Susan’s story? Learn more about how she made it as a solopreneur here.

Bonus Tip: If you’re still stuck for that eureka moment (or even if you’re not!), give SBI! a try. This all-in-one business-building solution even includes idea-getting brainstorming software and techniques to stimulate profitable, freedom-generating ideas. From idea to monetization, it’s all you’ll ever need to succeed.

Author information

Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)

Ken Evoy is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of SiteSell Inc. He is the creator of SBI!, SiteSell’s comprehensive Web business-building system. Ken is also a successful inventor, author, and emergency physician. He feels strongly that solopreneurs can be empowered by leveraging their income building potential online.

The post Stuck for a Good Business Idea? Just Add Water! appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.