“It´s only by saying no, that you can concentrate on the things that are really important” – Steve Jobs
When to say yes and when to say no
Not sure if there are any “Babyface” fans around here, but I´ve personally always loved the lyrics in “Simple Days” where he sings “Bring back those simple times of yesterday, when you said what you meant and meant what you said”.
There´s something about our day and age that makes us hold back what we really think more often than not. Whether it is for political correctness or for being too agreeable, being a people pleaser or simply too insecure to state our truth. I believe that we often say yes to things that do not truly feel aligned with our actual goals. Maybe it´s just me, maybe it´s just my perception.
Saying yes to every opportunity that presents itself may feel like the right thing to do when you are starting out in music. We are taught to be grateful for every opportunity that presents itself and yet, there comes a time in our career, where we have to make choices – either because of a lack of time or because of projects we´ve already committed to that require our full attention or even projects that ask us to work exclusively. Bottom line, we have to learn to say no to things, even if that doesn´t come easy. I feel like we should look into why we often say yes, when we should say no.
Why we say yes, when we should say no
There´s plenty of reasons for us to commit to things that we should think twice about. Such reasons could be
– wanting to keep a good relationship with a stakeholder (people pleasing)
– underestimating the time it takes to finish a project (time blindness)
– thinking just because we can do something or are good at it, that means we should do it (lack of focus)
– not taking the time to look into the paperwork and not fully understanding what we are committing to (being naive)
– thinking we have to use every opportunity because it might be our only shot (scarcity mindset)
Why we say no, when we should say yes
Likewise we often say no to things we should say “hell yeah” to. Sometimes we let amazing opportunites go by, not leveraging our full potential. Let´s check some of the situations in which we decline too quickly. This could be the case, if
– we think the commitment is too big and we cannot live up to the expectations (imposter syndrome)
– we fear that we might actually be successful (fear of change)
– we fear that we might fail and burn bridges (catastrophizing)
– we already have too much on our plate and can no longer see what actually moves the needle forward. And so we chose unimportant commitments over the important ones (lack of clarity)
– we do not want to commit because we love our freedom (autonomy issues)
There´s so many more reasons why we might say no to great opportunities.
What it means when people say no to us
The beauty of understanding our own misconceptions (and hopefully correcting them one by one) is how this can shift our perspective about receiving a “no” from others. We tend to take every “no” personally, when really there could be plenty of reasons that someone says “no” to us or our songs or ideas. Sometimes they are not ready to commit, sometimes they think they have no time for “yet another project”. Sometimes they do not want to disappoint us! And sometimes it is indeed our work that´s not matching up to their standards yet.
However, it is important not to assume that every “no” is tied to our work quality or to who we are. Likewise, sometimes a “yes” is not an honest yes either. Let´s all relax a little.
Life isn´t all black and white. We are humans and sometimes it isn´t as easy “to say what you mean and mean what you say” after all!
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