Sometimes saying no, even to good things, really just frees us to say yes to something bigger the Lord has in store for us.
I learned this valuable lesson from my business mentor, Dean Graziosi. I was frustrated at my lack of progress in growing my business. When I shared this with him, he counseled me:
“You’ve gotten this far by saying Yes. Yes to new contacts, new opportunities, new ideas and strategies. Now you are at the point where saying No is more valuable than saying Yes. You need to focus your efforts. That means saying No to opportunities that do not further your goals. It means turning down invitations you don’t really want to accept. It requires you to develop the ability to stay clear about what you want and the courage to say No to people who would derail you, even unwittingly. Some people may feel slighted by your refusal to join in their projects and agendas, but in the end, they will respect your strength and clarity.”
This has been a hard lesson for me, because I believe that saying Yes! to life is the best way to create a joyful life. I still believe that. But that doesn’t mean I need to say Yes to every tantalizing idea or activity that comes along. I am naturally curious and want to experience every good thing. But there are good things, and there are better things, and there are best things, as Dallin Oaks taught. In LDS church culture, we are pressured to say Yes to everything asked of us, and further pressured to do many good things of our own will and initiative. There is great value in this, as it builds our willingness and our talents. But at a certain point, No becomes even more valuable.