Early on in your career you say yes to every offer, project or task because you are scared that it could be the one that transforms your life. After a couple of years, when things are hopefully going well, you still say yes to everything because you don’t want to disappoint people by saying no. One day it hits you. You need to start saying no otherwise the work load will kill you. You need to say no with grace and thankfulness but you need to say it clearly and provide a reason.
For many years I had to pleasure of managing chart-topping pop band Deacon Blue and one of the first lessons I learned from them was how to say no. We would receive hundreds of offers of work each year from promoters, festivals, charities and broadcasters and the majority were told no. The reason goes back to my last post about simplicity. The band and I had identified what was important to us and eliminated the rest.
In my roles at ArtistWorks and P3 Music I’ve had to spend the past two weeks saying no to a lot of people. The easy way out is to say it’s because I don’t have time but in reality it’s because myself and my team have made a judgement that it is an opportunity, project or task that isn’t important enough at this moment. In saying no I also try to give some suggestions on other possible people or companies they may wish to contact. The funny thing is that the more things you say no to for good reason, the more opportunities come your way.
So it’s about identifying the essential and politely saying no to the rest. It is a hard lesson to learn, especially if you are the kind of person that looks for the approval of others. However people will respect you for being honest rather than doing a half-arsed job. What will you say no to this week?