How to say ‘no’ more often

Saying ‘no’ more often gives us freedom, power and direction. In fact, one of Steve Jobs’ famous quotes was, “I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1000 things.”


My biggest challenge is saying ‘no’ sometimes. Your value actually goes up the more you say ‘no’. It means you are more protective of your time and more selective with your choices. It’s not so easy to get Donald Trump on the phone!


Anyone with a burning desire to succeed will tend to want to do and achieve everything yesterday and feel like they haven’t missed out on anything (fear of missing out syndrome). In fact, I need to remind myself to say ‘no’ more every day as per my post-it-note reminder!




There are infinite amounts of opportunities, people, events, publications and activities from which to choose to spend time pursuing. So how do you choose?


Day to day


It’s easy to fill in time and be busy, yet outcomes and achievements are far more relevant.


Once you’ve shaped your goals clearly about your work, family and personal life, daily decision making becomes a lot easier. Will what I do today work towards my short and long-term goals? If yes, then proceed. If no – don’t do it. If unsure, you need to clarify your goals.


Then it’s time to prioritise each day by asking these two questions every day:


  • What are you procrastinating about? Stop and do it. Don’t be soft.
  • What’s the most important thing you need to achieve today? Focus!


This drives my daily task list.


Business opportunities


In assessing business opportunities, sure I could start a yoga studio in the jungle, or maybe be the next Wiggle, but I need to cull every so often as new ideas and opportunities creep in.


To avoid being spread too thin, I recently made up a game called the ‘no’ game, which I played with my business partners.


We looked at why we love doing what we are doing with MVP Genius and we came up with this list:


Pros: It’s working, profitable, fun, easy path to grow and scale locally and globally, A-grade people, sports-related, cool, flexible, strong partner relationships, powerful team and dynamics, ease in group decision making, trust, not a grind, labour costs low, explosive potential, recurring revenue, low marginal cost per new customer, growing industry, international laws are moving in our favour.


So based on this, we assessed other opportunities against this list and none of them even came close.


So we immediately culled and it was clear where our focus should lie: In order to say ‘no’ we needed to know what ‘yes’ looked like. Once we knew what ‘yes’ looked like, it only took one minute to say ‘no’ to the other ideas and opportunities! It was easy to cull.


I also suggested we revisit this process once a month.


Why do I write? I choose to write. I love writing and it’s therapeutic. I can express myself openly and put my thoughts into a concise message with a twist whilst sharing my insights, experiences and learnings. I love inspiring others so they can grow and be better in business and in life. I also get a huge buzz out of seeing my ideas spread. Building a profile also helps in my future endeavour to write a book and maybe go on the speaking circuit.


So start saying ‘no’ more often and better opportunities will come your way. You will feel more in control with a clear mind, have more time on your hands with better focus and you will be working towards your goals with fewer distractions. Good luck!


If anyone ends up playing the ‘no’ game, I’d love to hear how you go.


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