There has been a no movement gaining speed. Self help gurus, self proclaimed efficiency experts and productivity people by the droves are encouraging you to say no so you can say yes to only the great things. Makes a ton of sense if you are Richard effing Branson, but not so much if you are Jim “I am just starting out” Smith.
I get the the premise. Entrepreneurs and creative types are at their best “shiny squirrel” chasers. At their worst, they are useless. I can say this because I have spent days wondering what the hell I should be doing, and sometimes get in he car and go do “something”…anything to get rolling some days. But the problem with this drive to say no is that few of us have said yes enough to actually be considered a trusted source or an expert in our chosen fields.
When I decided in 2002 or so, that I wanted to be the slowest paid athlete on the planet (aka-find a way to work in triathlon and fitness) I said yes to everything.
Need a healthy food demo? YES!
Need a guy to set up a 5k. YES!
Can you do an outdoor Mexican food party for 500. YES!
Want to speak to a group on how to menu plan? YES!
Can you deliver 200 breakfast burritos to our group…during a hurricane? YES!!
Want to rep 4 small brands across the southeast? YES!
Can you put in a women’s or kids triathlon? YES!!!
YES! YES! YES!
It didn’t matter if I had ever executed any of these. I said yes. Some were free. Some paid. All of it though helped me become more of a resource for anything endurance related. There aren’t a lot of schools to teach what I do. Plus, I believe that before you can tell someone else how to do it, you’d better have “felt the pain” of doing it yourself.
After 7 or so years I like to say my circle became complete. I sell running shoes for Mizuno so people can run. I started the Rocketkidz Foundationn, which puts on 8 of the best races in the regions. I own FRESHJUNKIE , a healthy salad restaurant, and The Louisiana Marathon, the best marathon in the state and best in class throughout the nation. This last year I began coaching more via FRESHJUNKIE racing. None of this happens by saying no.
All of the above couldn’t be done without loyal friends, employees, co owners, volunteers and board members all loyal to the causes. This loyalty was built by saying yes and working hard, side by side with people and proving you are in it for the long haul.
Do I still say yes to everything? No, but I don’t shy away from it and neither should you. Especially when starting out.
I can’t tell you when the right time to start saying no is, but after a certain point you will realize what counts and is worth your time and what’s not. Until then don’t be afraid to say YES!