Choices Courage Leadership Vision

No! Simple.

The most effective leaders have mastered the art of saying No to almost everything proposed to them.

I’ve said ‘Yes’ way too many times in my life.

For the record, I’m not talking here about getting married multiple times.

I mean saying Yes to projects, jobs, activities, fun suggestions, and things others thought I should be doing.

Initiatives that sounded good, were proposed by well-intended people and would undoubtedly create some good experiences and learning.

If I had the slightest inclination that these initiatives would help me grow in some shape or form, I said yes.

That was always the story I told myself. I’m doing this because it’s preparing me for something bigger.


Something that will get me closer to my dreams.

I said Yes to moving to the Czech Republic because it was adventure, discovery, unknown, scary, out of comfort, learning, and testing myself at the same moment.

Big time.

My drive to Ostrava is well documented. I think I cried almost the entire way.

I couldn’t place it then, but I can now. The emotions were a sign that I had made the right decision.

Often when we’re emotional about a choice we have to make, it makes sense to dig a little deeper and to do some discovery.

Often we find that we’re onto something.

The Yes that turned my life upside down was preceded by saying No to a consulting job that would have resulted in me staying in the Netherlands.

I said No because I didn’t feel it would challenge me. Because the company didn’t want to lose me, they offered me the project in the Czech Republic.

I came to this story because of a paragraph in Marshall Goldsmith’s book “The Earned Life.”

He states that “the most effective leaders have mastered the art of saying No to almost everything proposed to them”.

Marshall Goldsmith

Once these leaders have a clear vision about the outcomes (not output, ask me for the difference) they aspire to achieve, they focus relentlessly on achieving those outcomes.

Extreme focus.

Such a focus requires saying No significantly more than saying Yes.

Not by a factor of 2, 3, or 4 to 1, but easily of 9, 10 to 1, or even more.

Steve Jobs was known for saying No almost always. But when he said Yes, he was relentless in his expectations to get it done.

It’s also the reason why the declutter philosophy of Marie Kondo is so successful.

When you’re able to say No to certain stuff (clothes, houseware, papers on your desk, etc.) that clutters your life, you create calmness in your mind.

It’s easier to choose from two pairs of socks than twenty-one pairs of socks.

It’s easier to focus on your work from a clean desk than from a desk stuffed with paper.

The purpose is to create simplicity for your mind.

It works the same in business.

You make it simple when you’re crystal clear on what you Do want and willing to say No to everything else.

That’s the simplicity we all need to be successful. You just need to adopt a rigorous discipline.

Your turn: Yes or No?

Do more of what makes you happy!


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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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