I have recently been in a number of conversations with people who have told me that they feel overwhelmed; they articulate that they have “too many things on their plate.” In speaking with these friends, it is as if they feel that they are caught in a vortex of tasks and relationship demands…and the demands have become endless.
The question that has come to mind is this, “What happened to the word ‘No’”?
It is easy for me – for all of us I suppose – to say “yes” to the many requests and demands that surround us each day; to be driven by the tyranny of the urgent.
Even so, it occurs to me that the first rule of leadership is not so much to lead others as it is to lead myself… and to gain – or for that matter, regain – control of my time. As has been said, control of our priorities should remain high on our list of priorities.
So how do we move out from under the deluge of random activity? I think former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says it quite succinctly:
“The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.”
I think Mr. Blair makes the point. We will all benefit by learning to say “no” to the many “good” things that present themselves as options for our relationships, tasks, and endeavors. You are correct Mr. Blair - it is indeed far too easy to say “yes.”
Maybe it’s time I begin to do the hard thing: namely, say “no” to the good things so that I can say “yes” to the best things… This is what I would also commend for consideration by those who have lately expressed the sense of being overwhelmed.
What do you think? Do you feel overwhelmed? Is it time to begin to say, “No”?