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Why “No” Is The Most Powerful Word You Can Use

Sounds counterintuitive, right?

Saying “no” to actually leap forward and move ahead in life. Seems like you’d be taking a wrong turn to say “no” to good opportunities frequenting your doorstep.

But you’d be wrong. Saying this one little word can be the most liberating and success filled action you can ever take.

Let me explain:

My biggest challenge as a business owner, writer on Forbes, husband, father and serial entrepreneur is learning how to say “no”. If your life is anything like mine; it’s full to the brim and mostly overflowing. Way too much to do; and not nearly enough time to do it in.

Wife to love; kids to nurture; business to run; interviews to do; articles to write; entrepreneurs to mentor; trails to hike; horses to ride and cats to feed.

Sound familiar?

Listen — you and I have exactly 24 hours in a day. And guess what? So does Bill Gates, Tom Cruise and President Obama. Yes — we’re on equal ground with these guys in this category.

So at the end of the day (literally), the most important thing any of us can be doing is effectively managing our time. Which in essence is nothing more than knowing when to say “yes” and when to say “no”.

Entrepreneur Perry Marshall calls it “opportunity discernment”. Jeff Walker calls it the most important thing you can learn how to do.

Ever wonder why some people just seem to get all the breaks in life? C-notes falling from the sky making a beeline direct for their bank account?

Well, in my opinion, it’s not luck. These guys have just nailed the skill of saying no. Knowing which opportunities to pursue and which ones to discard.

Take for instance a recent story of Jason Fried of 37 Signals. Jason had a product which was banking some good coin. But it was also sucking resources and didn’t really fit with their mission. So what did he do? He canned it. Said “no” to the 6 figure opportunity and it went bye-bye.

So as I look to perfecting my own ability to discern which opportunities to pursue and which ones to say no to; here are 3 things I plan to focus on:

1.) Knowing My Purpose and Mission

Forbes Magazine publisher Rich Karlgaard says this:

“Purpose is a soft virtue — but it’s what gives you steel in your spine.”

And I for one agree with him. Knowing your purpose and mission as an entrepreneur is the pad from which you launch. It’s the solid ground on which you stand. It’s the steel in your spine.

And the better understanding you have of your purpose and mission; the easier it is to measure every opportunity against it.

For example, my mission at Mighty Wise is to empower startup and struggling entrepreneurs. Period. So if an opportunity comes along for me to get involved in helping General Motors run their auto business attached to a million dollar paycheck — am I going to go for it? The answer is no. It doesn’t fit my purpose and mission.

So get your purpose and mission figured out now. As the rockin’ country song goes; “you’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything…”

2.) Use a Simple Tool to Judge Opportunities

So what happens with the opportunities that do match up with my purpose and mission? Do I chase every one of them? Again, the answer is no. It’s still too many to choose from and not all of them are equal.

As I was struggling with this issue of how to know which opportunities to go after; I came up with a simple system for measurement. Written on a sticky note and plastered to my computer monitor is the following:

 1X

10X

100X

No opportunity arriving at the front door of my business life gets through without being assigned a 1X, 10X or 100X rating.

Let’s say Richard Branson calls me up and offers to fly me down to board his yacht for a week of discussion on how best to help startup and struggling entrepreneurs. Yes Sir Richard — you’ve just been given a 100X rating.

Now let’s say my mom wants me to interview her for 15 minutes on how to start a business. Well, even though I love my mother dearly, she knows nothing of starting businesses. Sorry mom — but you get a 1X for that opportunity.

Yes — these are extreme examples, but planted on paper here so you can see the point. So do you?

3.) Overcoming the Fear of Missing Out

If you’re anything like me; you have a fear of making the wrong decision. Sitting on pins and needles struggling with “what if I say no to this — but it turns out to be the opportunity of a lifetime?”

Ever been there? Me too.

But I think here is the deal: You have to realize you will not get everything exactly right anyway. And that’s okay. Nailing every decision with 100% accuracy is a fairy tale. It’s just not going to happen.

So the key is overcoming any fear we have about making the wrong decision because a lot of times we will simply “decide not to decide”. Which is an ugly thing called procrastination.

And believe me — procrastination from being afraid to decide is a monster dream killer. Run far and fast from this one.

So if you need help overcoming fear, catch some awesome quick tips from “3 Ways to Stop Fear from Stealing Your Dreams”.

The Final Takeaway

Movers and shakers in the world of business are really good at saying no.

As a thought leader yourself developing new ideas, relationships and strategies; you should absolutely be overwhelmed with opportunity. Beating a path to your front door the opportunities should be lining up. Deals you can do. Products you can create. Partnerships you can form.

And this is an amazing thing. So much opportunity it makes others green with envy.

But don’t be a fool and believe they are all equal. Grab this wisdom; use it and know deep inside when you say “no”; you’re opening the floodgates to success.

Just say no.

NOTE: Does this make sense for you? Give me your thoughts below… 

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About the Author: Eric T. Wagner is a husband, father and life-long entrepreneur. After starting multiple businesses, Eric is now focused on helping other entrepreneurs find the path to success in business and life. You can also catch his gig on Forbes or connect with him on Google+.

Comments

  1. I like #2. It just helped me make a decision today. You have good stuff on this blog. I just don’t know how you make a living! Hope to connect more with you. Thank you for this post!

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