What if you just said “no” once in a while?

A few weeks back, a friend, Rob Lane, dropped into the office and he and I and my business partner, Brent, were chatting about how our work projects have kept us busy and how time has flown since we had last seen each other.

We Are Wired to Climb Mountains

None of us like to think of ourselves as “busy” per se, but anyone who is achievement oriented is conditioned to take on a lot of things or “climb mountains” as Rob put it. If you are good at getting things done, then projects and commitments find their way to you, and if you also have a “can-do” attitude then you’ll say yes by habit when you receive invitations to speak at an event, start a new venture, or lead a charity. We don’t think about not being able to fit it all in, because we believe we can.

Good Intentions

We say yes to things because we want to be seen as contributors, making as big a difference as possible in the world during our short time. In spite of a sense of invincibility, we know we won’t be here a long time in the grand scheme of things so there is always a sense of urgency in our minds.

Competing with Others and Ourselves

Even leisure sports are taken on with a fervor in a “mountain climbing” kind of way. We don’t just want to participate we want to win.

And being surrounded by other like-minded, ambitious people, has it’s own gravitational pull. I know I sometimes find ourselves caught up in the momentum of achievement around me, feeling like I should be doing more and without knowing it, getting caught in a cycle of busy and getting busier.

But what if…

But what if we said no? Rob said someone recently asked him this. What if he said no to some of the things he takes on. What would happen?

As Brent put it, “I have a business and a young family to enjoy, and that’s plenty of mountain to climb. I don’t need to go looking for more challenges.” <<Amen to that, but if you knew Brent, this comment is funny to hear, since he is a guy who is highly motivated by challenges AND who can successfully balance a large number of commitments>>

I don’t suggest making a habit of saying no all the time, but just because we can climb mountains, does it mean we should climb mountains? The real question is whether climbing another mountain adds or takes away from the richness of your life and your happiness. Only you know the answer to this question.

Life is good!

Eliot

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