frog noIf you say yes to every opportunity that comes your way you will drown in a sea of chaos and mediocrity.

The way of the essentialist is to gain mastery over the art of saying NO.

When to say NO: Say no to everything that doesn’t forward what is essential to you. This includes things that are essential to your well-being, your life style, your values and your business. This requires clarity about what is essential. Do you know? If not, spend the time to build this clarity and then write the essentials down and keep them where you can see them every day.

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”  Stephen R. Covey

This clarity allows us to make deliberate decisions about when to say Yes and when to say NO.

How to Say NO: Interestingly, studies show that people who say NO resolutely yet gracefully gain more respect, are seen as more professional and are significantly more effective than people who make a vague or non-committal YES.

Greg McKeown in his book Essentialism, makes these great points to help us master the art of saying NO gracefully:

Saying NO can be incredibly difficult. We may feel like we are rocking the boat, stirring things up or even burning bridges (See Blog Post on Metaphors) . We may feel like we are going to miss out on something important. There may be strong social pressure to say yes and a NO causes awkwardness, guilt and even physical discomfort. It takes courage and courage comes from conviction.

If you say NO, you may feel regret for a few moments.

If you say Yes, you may feel regret for days, weeks, months and even years.

“People are effective because they say no” Peter Drucker

Having the courage to dare to say NO is key to a successful life.