As I have been enjoying the blossoms from plants and bushes pruned earlier in the spring, the benefits for “inner pruning” (cutting back responsibilities, ways of doing, feeling or being) became more significant when the following came to my attention this week…
- A trusted colleague said she couldn’t do justice to more than one course at a time so she was saying “no” to our group’s invitation to be a part of another course.
- Another business owner in my building shared that she had cut back on long office hours with clients after realizing the stress she was feeling after rear-ending a car in traffic and bursting into tears on Mother’s Day.
- I fell this week when my office desk chair collapsed. I was retrieving some needed paperwork from my computer for my new client I had just ushered into my office. I had postponed replacing the chair ignoring the discomfort for the past two weeks… too many other priorities. (I expect the new chair to be delivered next week!)
All three scenarios involve a decision around saying “No” which has an impact on the business: return on investment, identifying a threshold for work volume capacity and finally, work safety.
And like the pruned plants which produce bountiful, beautiful blossoms after being cut back so do we as decision makers enhance business growth when care is taken to do some “inner pruning” and say “No.”
In this article…
I’ll discuss three ways saying “No” helps grow your business by eliminating time wasters and emotional baggage so you can remain focused on the big, important things. I’m inspired by Lesson 1, “Prune carefully… and often!” in Robert Wicks’ book, Riding the Dragon.
Look at how some “inner pruning” and saying “No” becomes a positive business move…
1— Saying “No” plain and simple is taking responsibility for yourself, protecting your dreams and your happiness by boundary setting.
Another favorite client brought this story to me a few years ago which led me to finding the source, Riding the Dragon by Robert Wicks. I’m paraphrasing the story here…
He did this of his own accord. It wasn’t related to his “priest” duties. It was truly something that made him happy. He wasn’t doing it out of feeling obligation, guilt or pressure.
If his offer of a sandwich was refused by a street person, he didn’t feel upset or insulted. He wasn’t expecting to be appreciated or recognized for doing good works. His expectations were few.
Eventually, a reporter published a story about the priest’s personal mission in the news. Soon the priest was receiving money from people around the world, including fellow priests to support his work.
Much to their surprise their money was returned with the following cryptic one line note: “Make your own damn sandwiches!”
If you are like me the first time I read this story, I had three conflicting reactions: relief, shock and guilt.
Relief the priest was able to protect his schedule and ultimately his happiness by keeping his duties limited. He didn’t feel the need to take on extra work and satisfy the needs of others because it’s the noble, charitable thing to do.
I was shocked his “No” was delivered in a way that seemed too harsh and abrupt.
Finally, guilt because how many times have I given money instead of doing the work and facing the grim realities many people live in our communities here and in the world.
And that’s the point. Remember, saying “No” is okay to do… even if the request is reasonable or for a good cause. You want to know your personal and business limits and stick to them. It’s responsible. You can’t help everyone nor is everyone a good fit for your services or business.
It’s okay to protect what is already blossoming in your business by saying “No.”
2–Saying “No” leverages a disruptive force and shakes things up… When saying “No” you’re saying “Yes” to something else, right?
There’s an increase of intensity around the work being done when other projects, etc. are not permitted to interfere. Any change in your normal way of doing things will be disruptive. This could be new procedures, new or changing staff or schedules. If you’ve been used to saying “Yes” more often than “No” — that’s going to shake things up– for you and others.
Saying “No” to doing more means more energy and heightened focus on what is in front of you. For example, my colleague’s choice to take only one course at a time means she can really dive into it deeply rather than swim in shallow waters.
When distractions are minimized, what is often only hit-and-miss-productivity can become consistent-hit the-bulls-eye-productivity!
Saying “No” to a schedule of too many meetings frees up time and energy to stay focused.
Likewise, saying “No” to a request for your time which takes you away from a scheduled meeting with a direct report to discuss why goals weren’t achieved, identifying mistakes, verbalizing concerns, re-clarifying goals and most importantly letting the person know they are better than the mistake and that you value them is the “Yes” your “No” allows.
These are disruptions and shakes which contribute to business intensity and ultimately growth because resistance to action is replaced with personal commitment and accountability.
3— Saying “No” is an opening for someone else to take responsibility, expands personal growth and invites self-care.
Who is going to step up if you continue to do everything? How will you develop your strengths and expand as a business owner or leader if you don’t say “No, I’m not available. You can do it.”
And sometimes you’re the one who needs to be told “No! it’s not for you to figure out.” Learning the skill of delegation is something successful leaders/business owners must do for personal and business growth.
For many, being in the role of coaching or mentoring someone else vs. always doing is a great reward.
And, taking care of self? Reading for pleasure, vacationing, joining the family for dinner on time is a key to being fresh and ready for work the next day.
Let’s face it… taking care of yourself makes you happier and easier to be around.
The takeaway is…
Saying “No” will help you and your business grow and blossom. It’s the “inner pruning” needed to stay focused so the big and important things get done.
I’d love to know…What do you need to cut back on in your business so the blossoms can multiply and grow in abundance?
I’ve got an extra pair of pruning shears… I’ll gladly share.