The Power of No

November 23, 2015



3 min read


 Image credit: Positively Smitten



“When you say YES to others, make sure you are not saying NO to yourself.” – Paolo Coelho


Saying no, is not as easy as saying no to wearing socks with sandals, (sorry Vogue and #PFW2015, I disagree with you and I still think it’s a no-no). Or saying no to wearing The Meat Dress (remember Lady Gaga, MTV VMA 2010?) or even saying no to eating garlic on a date (unless you’re not that into him or her!!) OK… jokes aside, saying NO fundamentally, is a much more difficult task, especially when we’re in a habit of saying yes all of our lives. We’ve been conditioned, that saying no is a bad thing, often times perceived as an uncharacteristic thing to do. Saying NO or being said NO to, has profound impacts not just in our personal lives but also in our jobs and relationship with others. Here’s what I’ve learnt…



By saying NO:


1. It frees up your time to focus on what is important


When you're not busy trying to do everything and pleasing everyone else, or saying yes to every single requests, it's amazing how much you can accomplish by focusing on what really matters. 



2. It clears the path to achieving goals


Eliminate or minimize unnecessary distractions, reduce the "noise" and stay focused. It will be easier to see where you're going to, once you've cleared the "vines" and "thorns" from your path to achieving your goals.



3. It protects your values


Protect your core values, your beliefs and prevent others from taking advantage. Staying true to yourself and what you stand for can be enlightening and empowering. You do you!



4. It gives you an opportunity to apply the 80/20 rule


Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto introduced the 80/20 rule in 1896, also called the Pareto Principle. What it means is that 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs. The assumption is that most of the results in any situation, be it in your personal, business and lifestyle, are determined by a small number of causes; by the amazingly small efforts that you put in; by doing the 20% that really matters!



By being said NO to:


1. Challenge accepted


You can choose to curl up in a corner and cry about it OR pick yourself up and try again. Accept the challenge and see the "NO" as the reason to refocus and re-channel your energy into something useful. It can potentially propel you to a higher or better alternative. Think of it as "liquid oxygen" fuel for your rocket. 



2. It forces you to indulge in a little self-reflection


So OK.. take a moment to reflect if the feedback is justified. Assess it from their point of view and yours. If your conscience is clear, then you're good. Maybe it's just timing and circumstances or do have a few things to work on. Take steps to improve and invest on yourself and become better. Based on the writings of Stephen Covey's 8th Habit, rise above and become a whole person vs a fragmented person. Embrace the possibility of the alternatives.



3. It makes you a better swimmer


Well...metaphorically yes, if you choose to accept the challenge! Not a swimming challenge but a "I'll-turn-no-to-positivity-to-get-to-my-goal-and-i-will-not-give-up-no-matter-what" challenge. A lesson from Dory the blue fish from Disney's Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming”! Keep moving forward, keep hustling to find that "ocean current" and you’ll get to your destination! 



So use NO wisely. And always say no to wearing socks with sandals :-)





Thank you to Tim Parsons for introducing me to Stephen Covey's: 8th Habit, From Effectiveness to Greatness book! 





M Consulting, the branding and marketing strategy development and activation consultancy was founded by Mawarni Adam, an award winning marketer with over 13 years of experience in branding and integrated marketing across multiple industries in the ASEAN region. It is her passion in building, revamping, turning around a portfolio, leading change and breathing new life into stagnant business situations that propelled her to establish her own marketing consultancy. Helping others make a positive difference in their businesses excites her. Her direct experience in the Subscription Video-On-Demand, Airline, Insurance, Loyalty, E-commerce, Banking, Venture Capital and Advertising industries, will bring an integrated perspective and valuable marketing input, strategy development and execution to any organization. 


Read more about Mawarni here: About M



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