The One Word That Helped Me Succeed
‘Success’ is a hot topic today, and pretty much always. We find ourselves looking for ways to be successful in our career, education, and relationships – whether it’s agreeing to an extra work shift, taking on someone else’s task for a project, or even just making the drive to the airport to pick up a friend. As a society, we seem to think that saying ‘yes’ to as many responsibilities as possible helps to increase our opportunities for success.
I recently read the article, “Why Saying ‘No’ Saved My Career” by MyDomaine contributor Sophie Miura. When I first read the title I thought, “There’s no way, aren’t we supposed to say ‘yes’ to get ahead?” We live in a society where ‘yes’ is always the right answer. It’s true, when we say ‘yes’ we can open the door to all kinds of opportunities and experiences. But, if you’re like me, you probably find yourself saying ‘yes’ to more obligations than you can realistically handle (this exact thing happened when I agreed to write this blog post!). And, if you’ve ever seen the movie Yes Man (2008), you also know that too much of anything, even saying ‘yes’, is not necessarily a good thing. Miura argues that by always saying ‘yes’ it’s thought that “we benefit from seizing opportunities, embracing the unknown, soaring headfirst into the possibilities presented to us. When in reality we find ourselves overworked, overcommitted, stressed, and tired.”
The reason that I say ‘YES’ is because I think that my peers, bosses, and teachers will be increasingly more impressed with my ambition and ability to tackle challenges. In reality, agreeing to all these different tasks leaves me feeling anxious, exhausted, and incapable of following through on my responsibilities. Over time, the need to please everyone stopped being a positive trait and actually began to damage the quality of my work. I realized that if I continued to agree to tasks I knew I couldn’t accomplish, my work efforts would continue to fall below my standards, and in turn destroy my opportunities for success.
Unfortunately, the word ‘no’ is often associated with negativity: “No, we’re not hiring”, “No, you can’t have that”, “No, I disagree”. No has become a word that gets in the way, that keeps us from our hopes and dreams, or breaks our hearts. However, Miura had a refreshing perspective, “Learning to say ‘no’ isn’t about turning away opportunities or dismissing others requests, it’s about finding a way to respond with authenticity”. This statement hit me like a ton of bricks. As someone who values authenticity, I realized that in order to be a great leader I needed my actions to align with my values. By agreeing to all these requests, I was not being authentic and truthful with myself or others. Being honest about your time isn’t selfish, but rather a way to show transparency. Finding the strength to say ‘no’, demonstrates that it’s the quality, not the quantity, of the things I do that are important to my leadership philosophy.
We have to let go of this idea that saying ‘no’ is a bad thing. The reality is that ‘no’ also opens doors for opportunities! It should be a word that empowers, emboldens, and inspires us! We need to feel comfortable saying it ourselves, and we need to respect others boundaries when they say it too. In this way, we can achieve more balance in our lives, making room for us to enjoy the experiences that positively contribute to our entire wellbeing.
With the holidays in full swing, we may find ourselves saying ‘yes’ to more obligations than we can realistically manage. Between the end of the year deadlines, holiday parties, travel, and gift shopping, there are a lot of responsibilities to juggle. Next time you find yourself feeling obligated to say ‘yes’, ask yourself, “Can I practically fulfill this request and to the standards and quality I hold myself to?” Be honest with your time and capacity for all these different requests. It’s ok to say ‘no’ if the alternative will be damaging to your own health and wellness.
This holiday season challenge yourself to say ‘no’ to one thing each week that will get in your way of the responsibilities you have already agreed to fulfill. Remember, most importantly the holidays are supposed to be a time for celebration and cheer, so also challenge yourself to say ‘yes’ to things that will bring you joy (not just ‘success’)!
*Meet the Author*
Eryn is from Sacramento, California and is currently a senior at Chapman University. She is pursuing her degree in Public Relations and Advertising with a minor in Leadership studies. When she’s not at school you can find her surrounded by friends, usually laughing.