You’re not being strategic until you say no

So we made it to February. Who’s with me on just pretending that this is the start of the new year? :)

In my last update, I shared one of the best days I’ve had in a long time, and a major part of that was Frank Fernandez (CEO of the Community Foundation) speaking to the Ripples cohort. 

The thing that stuck with me the most from his talk was this line:

“You’re not being strategic until you say no.”

That philosophy has been so pivotal to my success. Early on in my first business (Spunlogic), we would say yes to EVERYTHING. No matter what a client needed, we were their team. Sure, we can build it. Oh, we can definitely create this. Are you kidding, we love doing that!

It wasn’t until five years into our business, when one of our leaders suggested that we focus on User Experience as our North Star that everything started to change (more on that story in this podcast episode).

From that point forward, everything fell into place. For the next five years, we doubled our business every year, ultimately leading to a sale of the business in 2008. Saying no to opportunities that didn’t align with our UX focus gave us clarity of purpose, and allowed us to hone our skills and make a name for ourselves.

It might seem like I say yes to too many things, given that I seemingly can’t stop starting nonprofits or writing books. But in fact, I say no to far more things these days than I say yes to. Case in point: I dropped off of one of Atlanta’s most prominent nonprofit boards in 2019, much to the chagrin of several of my mentors. I needed more space to create Ripples of Hope, and I knew something had to give.

The Point

Do you have your goals laid out? Do you know what you’re trying to achieve in this life?

If not, get on that ASAP! I suggest starting by finding your personal Purpose. (Some tips on how to get started.)

Once you know what you’re trying to accomplish, take a look at the things you’re up to. Look at your calendar (and color-code it), your to-do list, even your friend group. Identify activities that aren’t leading you forward toward your goals. What should you have said no to in the first place?

Get yourself focused, re-evaluate your priorities, and start saying no more often. I promise you’ll find more success than you ever imagined. And share this with someone that you think might need to read it!

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