“What’s the master skill of productivity? Learning to say No.” @DarrenHardy#JoinTheRide.
I had a tough meeting yesterday. It was tough because I was caught off guard and what I thought was to be a brainstorming / creative meeting (I wanted to discuss preparations for my upcoming solo exhibition in April), it became a business meeting.
She started throwing out ideas like one of those tennis ball shooter thingie, one after another – all good, mind you. She even started telling me how and where to set up shop in Singapore. When I reminded her that I’m an online business, she made a face and asked if I’m on Facebook. I said “yes, but also on Instagram”. She then told me to forget about Instagram and focus on Facebook. She told me I needed an email Campaign. “Yup, I know but I haven’t done it yet” – to which she looked up, gave me this incredulous stare and asked me what have I been doing all this while.
I felt crushed. I felt like I’ve been a lazy bum and been such a failure at getting my lazy bum in gear.
You see, when you are an entrepreneur, you naturally want to be open to business opportunities. You want to be open – and say yes to new opportunities or collaborations and partnerships. However, as you start to say yes, you’ll start realising you have less and less time and more and more balls to juggle. That’s the nature of the beast, no? Possibly, but my gut says no.
My gut says I chose this road of being a Mumpreneur of an online business because I want to be able to spend quality time with my family. So what does that mean? It means I need to learn to be very clear in what I want for myself, my vision, my business and I have to learn to stop wanting to please others – which is so ingrained in my Asian upbringing.
I have to learn to say No (in a nice way, of course).
A friend gave me this amazing book sometime ago, The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster by Darren Hardy, (THANK YOU Aivonne!) and I’ve been trying hard to follow and stick to some of his mantras – one of which is “Learning to say No”.
“How do super achievers do it all? The secret is they DON’T?”
“Everytime you say “yes” to something, you’re actually saying “no” to something else. Perhaps its a bigger opportunity that now you have to turn down, or maybe its simply precious time with your children. Whatever the stakes, make sure that the next time you consider saying “yes” (when you really should be saying “no”). its a “Hell Yeah!” or don’t even consider it.”
Apparently multi-billionaire Richard Branson lives by his three priorities mantra and says no to all opportunities and meetings that are not in line with his three strategies of the year. Warren Buffett has a three-step method for prioritisation: Write them down; Narrow them down to three priorities; throw away the rest.
I concluded that the reason I felt awful, small and like a total failure walking out of that shop yesterday despite what seemed like a business pitch to me is due to the following:
- I am not clear on my three priorities for the year (Its SOO tough to narrow them down!);
- I have a tendency of wanting to please others in fear of offending them or souring relationships (Asian upbringing goes against the grain of saying “No” – Fyi, there is no word for “no” in the Chinese language);
- I am afraid to lose out on what could be a good business opportunity (despite the fact that I always tell myself to never make a decision out of fear – e.g. fear of losing control, fear of losing potential income); and
- I was being too harsh on myself.
The last one is probably one that’s familiar to most of you. How often do we beat ourselves up for not being good enough, not trying hard enough, not working hard enough to be the perfect mum, wife, employee, sister etc? If you’re Asian, its probably even worse because again, typical Asian upbringing is all about tough love. A ‘B’ or heck, even an ‘A’ was never good enough – it should be an ‘A+’.
So, today, I’m telling myself these four things:
- Learn to love myself. Before I start feeling awful, give myself a pat on the shoulder and say “Well done, Love. You wouldn’t have been able to have that conversation if you haven’t come this far”.
- Learn to say “No” – in a nice way, by saying “That’s a great idea, which we should explore in more details and thought another time…”.
- Learn to focus on my three priorities for the year (once I’m clear on them) and the priorities only. Meditation should help.
- Learn to let go and see things from a different perspective instead of dwelling on the ‘problem’. Realising that I was in danger of going into this dark cloud of frustration and anger phase, I told myself to try and think outside the box and try to see her proposal from a different perspective. Maybe there is a way to make things work – that will be in line with my priorities.