Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Selling for Introverts: Quiet Persistence Breaks Down Resistance

In my post From Dog Food to Filet Mignon, I share my selling journey as an introvert and how I went from failure to success.  In this post, I want to continue and share some additional lessons from my selling journey.

When I returned to selling the second time, 10 years after having failed the first time, I still hadn't really learned how to sell, nor about target marketing, defining a niche, speaking, writing, serving on committees, and so on--elements I talk about in my post From Dog Food to Filet Mignon.  These elements came much later in my selling journey, as I gained experience and learned more about selling.

When I went back into sales, I began by selling door to door, calling on local businesses.  I didn't know any other way.  And I figured that I have to start somewhere and at the time door to door method seemed as good as any.  So I mustered up my inner strength, grabbed my bag and off I went.

I would begin each day visiting high rise office buildings. In each building, starting with the top floor, I would visit each company on each floor asking the receptionist who buys their printing.  If he/she gave me a name, I would leave a handwritten note for that person letting them know I stopped by and that I would call them later to request a meeting.  Then when I returned to the office, I would type out letters and mail 'em out to these folks, reintroducing myself.   Then few days later I would follow-up with a phone call to request the meeting.  Of course, I heard the usual objections and faced numerous rejections.  Still, along the way I also got some meetings, by following this system day after day.

In those cases where the receptionists didn't give me the name of the buyers during my initial visits, I would call them back at lunch hour. At that time usually a temp was covering the desk.  These temps were more than happy to talk and would freely give out information.  So that would get me what I needed to start with within those companies and I would be back in the game.

Given I was selling door to door, and that many buildings had "No Soliciting" signs, there were also times I would be escorted out the buildings by security guards.  But hey, buildings are permanent, security guards are not.  In those situations, I would simply go back some time later and often there would be new guards who wouldn't recognize me.

In addition to above, if I didn't get a meeting, I would keep revisiting the offices and over time that too would lead to some opening.  Either they felt sorry for me, just got tired of seeing me, or whatever.  It didn't matter. I eventually got my foot into many doors this way in many places, and that's what mattered.  It frequently started with a small job. Then as relationships strengthened, larger sized and repetitive orders followed.

So what's my point in this post?  Their are several and they are:
  1. Don't let anyone ever tell you that introverts can't sell.  We can, we do, and we do it very well, in the right environment. 
  2. Don't ever tell yourself that you can't do something.  That's hiding behind "That's how I am".  No you're not.  Those are stories we tell ourselves and they don't serve us.  Look, I am introvert. Even though the above was uncomfortable, tough to do, and very unnatural for me, once mind was put to it, it got done.  It was simply a matter of will.  In addition, failure was not an option.  I had resigned from my well-paying secure government job to go into business and there was no turning back. I had to succeed. Plus, truth be told, I hate to lose.
  3. When you're feeling stuck, unsure what step to take, just do something. Some action is better then no action.
  4. Don't strive for perfection but rather continuous improvements.  Many introverts are notorious for perfecting and they'll do something only after it's perfect.  And since it's never perfect, no action is ever taken. And that results in no results.  Therefore, strive instead for improving. As long as what you do today is better then yesterday, and what you do tomorrow is better then today, you're doing great.
  5. Follow a sales process, a system.  It'll keep you focused and on track.
  6. Don't let anyone defeat you.  The only person who can defeat you is you.  If you decide to succeed, you will.  It may not necessarily happen on your time frame. But if you hang in there long enough, keep showing up, consistently keep doing what you need to do, success will follow. 
  7. Be creative, be persistence.  If you can't get in the front door, try the back door.  If the back door doesn't work, try the window.  If the window doesn't work, try the attic.  If that doesn't work, dig a tunnel.  Look, where there is a will, there is a way.
Bottom line is that persistence is a key element of selling.  And we introverts have this natural talent where we can focus and stick to something for a long time.  So leverage this natural strength of yours and quietly persist my introverted friends.  Then success is simply a matter of time.  Guaranteed.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

From Dog Food to Filet Mignon: My Selling Journey As An Introvert

Are you a highly educated introverted professional who is required to sell your services and meet revenue goals, as part of your job?  Do you ever doubt yourself and your abilities to sell?  Do you feel uncomfortable with the idea of selling, and being viewed as a sales person? When it comes to selling, many introverts doubt their abilities to sell.  I used to be one of them.

My very first job out of college was as a Sales Engineer for a major oil company.  Landing on the job, after receiving some initial product training, I was given a car, a territory, a map, and told go at it.  I was to call on contractors selling commodity items that included fuels and lubricants for heavy machinery.  While I was thrilled to have a company car, it was not exactly what I expected the job to be. It was frankly a pure selling role. Never figured out at the time where the engineer part was that was also part of the job title.

In any event, thinking sales people are supposed to be outgoing and that it's about fast talking, back slapping, shooting the breeze, I tried to do all that.  I even grew a mustache so I would look older than I did at the time, so people would take me seriously.  In hind site, I must have looked awfully stupid because as an introvert, such behavior is so counter to who I am.

Nearly every day frankly in that job was a misery, and I hated it.  While I loved the part about learning and meeting people, I just couldn't get used to idea of me selling.  And frankly I hadn't gone to college and studied Chemical Engineering only to then become a salesman.  But I loved the car and I was finally making some money, and so was too hesitant to quit.  Finally, much to my relief, my employer kicked my behind out the door.  While it hurt my ego, I said to myself "Thank God".  And I wowed never to go into sales again.  (Though I failed at the time, it would be decades later I would come to see this part of my career as a gift.  That's a topic for another time however.)

Well, as they say, never say never. Ten years later, I was back doing Business-to-Business sales, and it is here I came to see that in the right place with the right offerings, we introverts can really sell and do it very well.  In this new role, I decided to just be myself, and it worked.  As a result of some steps, which I learned through many trials and errors, I ended up enjoying numerous referrals, highest margins, strong client retention, and remained top producer for a long time. 

How did I succeed in sales the second time?  Here it is:
  • Gained Expertise: Having a passion for learning, I spent countless hours learning about all aspects of the business. I become an expert in the business, in what we were selling, and to whom I was selling.  I learned the ins and outs of what I sold, how it was produced, and how our offerings benefited our customers.  This also meant I made the time to understand who our ideal customers were, what challenges they were facing, how our offerings helped them, and what made us different-unique from our competitors.
  • Freely Shared Expertise:  As I enjoy writing and sharing knowledge, I wrote articles, participated actively in various electronic discussion groups, developed and delivered training courses.  These writings led to my being invited to serve on various committees and speak at conferences.  In the process I came to know many people within my target market, and more importantly they came to know me.  All this contributed to my establishing visibility, credibility, and trust.
  • Asked for Face-2-Face Meetings:  This is one area I had to push myself out of my comfort zone.  Given people within my target market were coming to know me through above mentioned activities, getting meetings became easier, over time.  Still, I had to make conscious effort to reach out and ask for meetings, for business, for opportunities to serve.  Initially this was very uncomfortable and over time with practice it became easier.  
  • Helped Solve Problems:  I enjoy helping people solve problems.  Therefore, in meetings, I never tried to sell.  Frankly I couldn't do it even if I tried.  Instead I asked numerous questions, took time to probe to understand clients' needs and challenges. Then when it made sense I helped them understand how what we offered could help them.  In other words, selling happened when it made sense and this naturally led to business.  Of course there were many times I had to still ask for the business. But when the value was clear, it really wasn't very difficult to do.
  • Built Strong Relationships:  As I like people, many of my clients in time also became my close friends. Though I am no longer in that business, some remain close friends to this day.  Building such relationships made business more enjoyable and led to much more business too, from both existing clients and their colleagues who were referred to me.
  • Went Deep, Went Wide: As client relationships became stronger, I was given opportunities to help them solve more and more problems they were facing across various departments.  This led to my taking more of my offerings deeper into my clients' organizations.  This not only helped them, it also led to relationships becoming more "sticky", i.e. making me less likely to be displaced by a competitor.
  • Remained Curious, Constantly Asked Questions:  By on-goingly asking clients questions such as "how am I doing?" and "what more can I do for you?", they gave me lots of feedback, which we used to make improvements and develop additional offerings. They told me what's important to them, what they need, what made us stand out from the competition, and so on. In essence, customers told me how to sell to them and what to sell.  Doesn't get any better then this.
Bottom line is that introverts can and do absolutely succeed in selling.  So if you're an introverted professional who is required to sell and generate revenue as part of your role, fear not.  If I can do it, you can too.  Just be yourself, and just do it.  Leverage your natural strengths, take types of steps I shared above, and success will follow in due time.  I can guarantee it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

An Introvert's 5-Step Process to Becoming A Better Listener!

I was recently asked, "How do I become a better listener?"  Given that I find many who are so busy running their mouths and pushing to get their points heard, I wonder at times if talking is a national sport that I don't know about.

Becoming a great listener is really a very simple process, yet one that's not always so easy to follow.  It's a process many introverts are naturally great at and with practice, even talkative ones can master it, if they choose to. Here it is:
  1. Stop doing what you're doing
  2. Make gentle eye contact (not stare)
  3. Open your ears
  4. Shut your mouth, and keep it shut. Do not interrupt.
  5. When the person finishes saying what they want to say, before responding, pause for a few moments. Similarly, after you ask a question, remain silent giving the other person time they need to formulate their thoughts and respond.  Silence is a very powerful force that's very much a critical part of being a great listener.
Now you may ask what do you do when you're in the middle of something that you absolutely must attend to right then, and someone comes into your office and starts talking.  I can totally relate to this for at times I am in the middle of a deep thought and someone just walks in and starts talking without first asking me if I have a moments to chat.  It really bugs me.

For such moments, when I really am not able to give undivided attention, or don't want to get away from what I am focused on, I have learned to say something like: "I really want to hear what you have to say.  If it can wait just a bit, may I please finish this and then I'll be able to provide you my undivided attention."  I find people appreciate and respect this.  Plus, it's a better option then trying to do what you're doing and at the same trying to listen.  Just not possible and no one feels satisfied in such an exchange. You end up feeling stressed and the other person generally ends up thinking you're insensitive (or some other choice words they use for such instances) for your not paying attention to them. 

(I must come clean here though and admit that I have been there, trying to do both, and in the process having been labeled as such.  Just ask my wife and my kids, who are my 3 biggest supporters and also my biggest critics. Trust me, they don't mince words.)

On the flip side, this also means that when you have something to say, before going right into your spiel, ask the other person first if they have a few moments. Only if they say yes, then go into what you want to say.  If they say no, not right now, respect their space and come back to them at another time.

Go ahead, give it a try.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Introverts: Do You Ever Feel Like Something is Wrong With You?

Back in January 2010, I wrote a post entitled "Workplace Challenges Being an Introvert". In response, one of my blog readers recently shared:

"I'm such an introvert, and recently was told by my brother that I'm "wrong" for not talking to my relatives the way he does...I'm just not talkative, but of course that comes off as "bitchy"..I've been criticized for being quiet for a decade (I'm 21), and it's terrible to have to go through that, feeling like something is "wrong with you"...when actually, I'm a nice, friendly person with deep, meaningful thoughts...sometimes I don't know what to do with myself."

First of all, if you're an introvert, I am sure this resonates.  If it does, rest assured that there is nothing wrong with you.  Unfortunately, given how we introverts are wired, we often come off as such to those who don't understand us.  What varies are the choice of words used to describe us. Yet underlying messages are similar. And in each instance we feel misjudged.

Having said that, we have a choice.  Do we want to continue to go through life being misjudged, defending how we are,while remaining silent and "hiding" behind "that's how we are?"  Or do we want to do something about it?  If you choose the later, here's something for you to think about, and then do.

Next time someone misjudges you, why not first thank them for they have given you invaluable feedback.  Secondly, ask them "What's the one thing you could say or do differently, so that you don't come off as...bitchy...aloof...arrogant...disengaged...?  If you genuinely ask for guidance, people will provide it to you, from a good place.

By doing so you will gain valuable actionable guidance, and then you can accordingly adjust your behavior as needed for the given situation.  And you can do this in a way that doesn't negate who you are while at the same time communicating to others the real authentic caring nice person that you are on the inside.

Now, if you were to choose this path, which you can for many things in life are acts of will, and therefore doable once you put your mind to it, what would your relationships, personal and professional, look like?  What obstacles would be removed?  What opportunities would become available to you?  In a nutshell, what would become possible for you?

So, with this said, which path do you choose? 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

5 Reasons God Made Introverts!

Being a quiet type, growing up I used to think something is wrong with me.  At gatherings it appeared talkative ones were the popular ones.  As for me, I would mostly sit quietly observing and listening as others chatted away.  So many times I used to wish I had the gift of the gab as those who could make small talk at the drop of a hat had.  While my brain would be active, listening with curiosity.  While I can focus intensely and think deeply, when it comes to making small talk, I seem to blank out.  All the while I would sit there feeling self-imposed internal pressure that I should also be saying something but then wouldn't know what to say.  Somehow talking for the sake of talking still doesn't come naturally to me, and frankly superficial conversations don't interest me either.

Then it occurred to me that at the very basic level, God created two kinds of people.  There are those who are mainly talkers, and then there are the listeners. Why is that you ask?  Imagine for a moment if we all were talkers.  Then who would we talk to?  On the flip side, if we had mainly listeners, then who would we listen to?  With this realization, I accepted that I am the listening type and others are the talker types.  And we both need each other.

In our society, broadly speaking, talkers are thought of as extroverts and listeners as introvert. With this said, I wondered, while we introverts don't talk much, what do we do that makes us special?  Why did God make us for He doesn't make anything without a purpose?  As I reflected on these questions, 5 overarching reasons came to my mind. They are:
  • Natural Listeners: Have you ever wanted, needed to talk to someone who would give you undivided attention, really listen to what you have to say without interrupting or cutting you off, patiently take the time to understand you and your views?  This is one of the areas where introverts really shine because since they are not talkers, they are naturally great at listening, both to what you say and also to what you don't say.
  • Discoverers and Problem Solvers: When I think about many of the scientists, researchers, engineers, mathematicians, technology types, I find many of them are introverts.  They have immense patience to quietly persist, focus intensely, think in depth and pay attention to the smallest details as well as at the same time see the big picture and the interconnectedness.  They can go in great depths in to specific subjects and stick to it for long long periods of time, which is what is often required to come up with something new, and to solve complex problems.  In fact, my observation is that many of our subject matter experts, particularly in technical and scientific areas, tend to be introverts.
  • Knowledge Bearers and Sharers: I find many introverts, possessing strong writing skills, patiently sit at their computers putting out journal articles, blog posts, publications, books and so on.  All this serves to educate and inform.  That in turn influences decisions, actions and ultimately outcomes for many.
  • Natures Glue: Introverts in my experience don't like too much change.  As result, whether it has to do for example with a job, a project, relationship, a business, introverts prefer to stick.  Having the desire for predictability and stability, they prefer to stay for long periods and as a result serve as a stabilizing force.  They also serve as a calming presence for they don't get overly excited too easily, and they tend to think before they talk.  In today's uncertain fast changing climate, such calmness that introverts naturally exude is so welcomed and so refreshing, at least to me as an introvert.
  • Strong Long-Range Planners:  Introverts don't tend to jump into new areas very quickly.  While this can be a disadvantage in crisis situations (areas where I find extroverts tend to be stronger), when it comes to long-range planning, creating order out of chaos, solving complex problems, introverts are generally very strong.  They can patiently think ahead, develop and analyze options, identify gaps and problem areas before they become costly mistakes, and come up with solutions and alternative approaches. Many times because they are such patient thinkers, they have the strong ability to also sit back, reflect, see the big picture and identify how various pieces connect. 
So if you're an introvert, feel great about yourself for you have so many reasons to be thankful for being one.  And for the introverts you know, please share this with them and thank them for the goodness they bring into all of our lives.  Thank you.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Introverts: Your Time Has Now Come!

For the longest time, primary means of communication, achieving visibility, and establishing credibility and personal brand involved mostly verbal communication, which is extroverts' natural strengths.  These means included telephone conversations, face-to-face meetings and networking, and speaking.

While there were means of written communication available, such as writing articles for newsletters and magazines, given the costs, time involved in publishing, and limited available space, getting published was time consuming and not as readily available.  Thus putting introverts at a great disadvantage given their preference for the written words.

Today however situation is very different and it is very favorable to us introverts.  This is because majority of business, and even personal, communication now takes place via means that require writing, which is introverts preferred means of communication and their natural strength .  These means include email, electronic discussion groups, social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, electronic newsletters, self-publishing, to name just a few.

These widely available, inexpensive, and easy to use platforms combined with introverts natural ability to think deeply,  communicate complex concepts and ideas through witting provides us introverts great opportunities to share our knowledge, our expertise. Thus positioning us as the experts and the go-to-people for solutions.  By taking advantage of these means and taking time to share what we know, we now have the means and the power readily available to us to develop immense networks and establish strong personal brands via means that play to our natural strengths.

Therefore introverts, your time has now come to shine and get to the top. Leverage these modern means to establish your personal brands that will serve you well.  The way I see it, I can't think of a better time for us introverts then now.  Given this, what next step will you take to increase your visibility, establish firmly your personal brand, and to take your turn to be at the top? 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Is What You See Really What You See?

Is it possible for multiple people to see the same situation and yet each see it very differently, have different thoughts and feelings about it, and each reach very different conclusions in regards to it?  Then depending on what and how each sees what they see, that will impact their choices, decisions, actions, and outcomes? 

Let me share a recent situation to illustrate this.  A young college gal, who was feeling very sad at the time, came to talk with me. After she settled in, I gently asked her what's going on, and then patiently waited in silence for her reply.  I find some conversations just can't be rushed.  After some time, she said "all my friends are leaving me".

After few moments of again silence, respecting what she shared and reflecting on it, I asked if I can ask a question. Upon permission, I asked "Is it that your friends are leaving you, or is it that they are leaving?"  After some exploration, it turns out what she really meant was that they are leaving, moving out of town, changing colleges, graduating and moving on.  This was a critical distinction to explore with her, to understand for myself as well as for her own sake, as to whether she felt they were leaving or if she saw it as them leaving her.  This was important for each frame of reference implied very different thought patterns and would lead to then different explorations to help her through it.

Moving forward, though she logically understood them moving on, she was still very sad for she felt once they left, they are gone forever and she'll have to make new friends.  In addition, she wondered what's the point for if she makes new friends they too will leave one day.

After few more moments of silence again, I further inquired by asking: How is it that by them moving that the friendship can not continue?  Is it not possible that by your friends moving, rather then your circle getting smaller and you being alone, your circle of friends and professional contacts is actually getting bigger and you'll have more places to visit and to turn to?  For as they make new connections and you maintain the friendships, then your circle of friends can actually get even larger?

As she reflected on this, after some time, a smile emerged.  As she came to this realization, her mind started turning as she thought about the various places she could now visit, and develop even more friendships. Finally she left feeling joyful, feeling light, and filled with new possibilities.  All as a result of simply seeing the situation through a new lens, seeing it differently then what she at first saw it as.

So getting back to the question "Is what you see really what you see?" next time you see something, ask yourself if what you're seeing is really so.  Consider exploring different possibilities, seeing it from multiple angles.  And then see what new possibilities emerge for you. As you did this, in what ways do you think this could ultimately impact you?  Can you think of a recent situation in your own life where what you saw was really not what you thought you saw?  And once you shifted your perspective and saw it differently, everything from that new seeing led to different thought patterns and ultimately different outcomes?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Introverts: Have You Ever Felt Misunderstood?

Have you ever been asked these types of questions?
  • You OK?
  • Is everything alright?
  • Are you angry, upset about something?
  • Something bothering you?
Have you ever been labeled as:
  • Distant
  • Loner
  • Scary
  • Intense
  • Cold
  • Loser
  • Impersonal
  • Aloof
  • Quiet as a Mouse
  • Slow
  • Hesitant
  • Picky
  • Dull
  • Anti-Social
  • Not a team player
  • Low energy
  • Boring
If you're an introvert like me, I am sure this resonates for when you have been asked such questions and mislabeled as such, deep down you feel so misunderstood.  I know, for I have been there. And I must admit that hasn't necessarily felt good.

Good news is that there is something you can do about it.  You can overcome these perceptions by your starting to take one simple action.  While at first this action may feel uncomfortable for some, know that you can do it, and it may even impact your life in a very positive way.  Here it is:

As you run into your friends, family, work colleagues, and other people in general, rather then looking away, make a conscious effort to look at the them, or at least towards them, and say something letting them know you acknowledge their presence.  For example, assume this person you run into is named John.  When you and John approach each other, take the lead and say something like this:
  • Hello John
  • Good Morning John
  • Have a great day John
  • How was your weekend?
  • Take care guy.  Have a great day
When you don't know the person, still say something simple like "Good Morning" or "Hi There".  You get the idea.  And look, it's not that complicated. You just have to look at, or towards the person and move your lips and make a simple sound.  It's this easy and it's very doable.  If I can do it, someone who was once labeled as quiet as a mouse, you can do it.

Warning:  Initially this new action of yours may shock some people. They may even wonder what you're up to, what ever happened to you, or what you been smokin'.  But that's OK.  Let 'em guess.  Go ahead, have some fun with this.  :)

You see, reality is that we introverts do acknowledge others but we often do it in our heads. As a result, others don't know that and therefore we introverts get misjudged and mislabeled. Frankly speaking, we bring it onto ourselves.  So the choice is yours.  You can continue down the same old path or you can take the bull by the horn and make the shift by starting to take small yet powerful steps as suggested above to begin to connect, and reap the rewards that follow.

So, what will you choose?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The 3-Step Program to Take Back Control of Your Time!

As I move about and talk to various people, I see so many who seem to be constantly feeling overwhelmed.  As I do, I ask myself:
  • What are these people so busy doing?  
  • When do they have time to think?
  • How is what they're doing helping them and their organizations move forward in a significant way?
  • Is some of what they're doing possible to simplify, automate, delegate, or perhaps just stop doing all together?  If they did, would anyone miss it?  Would their be any noticeable impact?
The more I thought about this, the more I realized how important focusing is. Focusing on things that matter, that have the greatest impact, that move you and your organization forward in significant ways, and stop doing things that don't. 

The questions then arose in my mind were while this sounds nice, where does one begin to take back control one's schedule, and what's the process by which one would regain greater focus and control?  As I reflected on this, what surfaced in my thoughts is what I will refer to as The CI Model (CIM).  Image is above.

In CIM, there are 4 Boxes.  They are:
  • Box 1: Important/No Control 
  • Box 2: Important/Control
  • Box 3: Not Important/No Control
  • Box 4: Not Important/Control
 As to what I mean by these terms, it is as follows:
  • Important: Activities that move you, your team, and your organization forward in a significant way towards established goals.  These are activities that have significant pay off in comparison to time and resources invested.
  • Not Important: Activities that don't move you forward towards established goals in any significant manner. These are things that take up physical and mental resources yet payoff is relatively small, if any at all, considering the effort and time investment.
  • Control: These are activities that must be done by you given your expertise and qualifications.  In addition, you get to decide whether these are to be done, or not done, how they are to be done, and when.
  • No Control: These are things that fall on your plate but they don't need to be done necessarily by you, if they need to be done at all in the first place.
If you agree with this so far, below are the 3 steps to follow to take back control of your schedule and focus on what matters most. The time you invest in doing this will more then pay off in freed up time and resources. In other words, time investment will be relatively small in comparison to pay off in the long-run. Here are the 3 steps:

Step 1: Do a brain dump.  Empty your brain. Write down everything that is on your plate right now.
Step 2: Move each of the items you have listed into appropriate boxes within the CIM.
Step 3: For items listed within each box, do as follows:
  • Box No. 4 - Immediately stop doing it.
  • Box No. 3 - First, question if this needs to be done at all.  If not, stop it.  If it does for some reason, renegotiate with whoever assigned this to you, to get it moved off your plate.  If you can't get it off your plate, look for ways to streamline it, automate it.
  • Box No. 2 - As much as possible, focus your time and energy in this box for this will lead to greatest impact. The more you focus here, the more you and your organization benefit.
  • Box No. 1 - Its important to do this work but its not necessary that you do it.  Therefore try to get it off your plate and look for someone else who can do this, both to free up your time and that it could serve to develop an upcoming colleague who could benefit by taking this on. 
Go ahead, give this a go.  This will help you not only take back control of your time (and your life), it'll also help you remain focused, in control, and lead to greater gains for you, your team, and your organization.  Everyone will win.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Say Yes to No, to Kick Start the New Year!

US President Obama carried his campaign on the slogan "Yes We Can!"  Growing up "Can Do Attitude" was drilled into us.  There are numerous books on "Getting to Yes".   On and on it goes.  With all this emphasis on "yes", whatever happened to "no"?  I think it's feeling left out.  And come to think of it, what's wrong with saying "No We Can't", "Getting to No", and having a "No Can Do Attitude"?  After all, isn't saying no just as powerful as saying yes? 

By saying yes to so many things, don't we often begin to feel like we're not living a life that is our own?  Don't we end up taking on so many things that don't energize us, don't fulfill us, cause us to lose focus, and don't move us forward towards what we want? So why do we say yes so often?

Now look, I have nothing against the word yes.  It's a perfectly fine word.  But just because it has one one more letter, doesn't make it better.  So isn't it time we honor and give "no" the respect it also deserves?  

If you agree with this, I invite you for a moment to stop doing whatever you're doing right now.  Spend some time in quiet reflection and list out all that is on your plate.  Then ask yourself, of all those things you just listed, which ones can you stop doing right now.  What can you say no to.  Then take the next step.  That is stop doing it.  Just say no.  It's that simple.

For as you do, you'll discover that it'll free you up to say yeses to the things that truly matter.  You'll become more focused, more effective, more joyful by saying yes to things that move you forward and no to things that don't.  At the end of the day, isn't that what you really want?

Yes?  No?


P.S. If you're leading teams, I encourage you to share this with each of your team members and ask them to do the same.  Imagine how many valuable resources will get freed up which you can then redirect to doing more of what will move you and your organization forward.