Why the most successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything (Earnspiration Report Issue 7)

NoWarren Buffet once famously said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”

Learning to be selective and to be able to say no is important.  It can relieve you from unnecessary pressure and put you back in control of your life.

The product manager who can say no to countless suggestions from the enthusiastic but misguided salesman will keep her product lightweight and easy to use for core customers.

The busy manager who can say no to unnecessary meetings will have more time to provide leadership and guidance to his team.

Saying no is all about filtering out the non-essentials, so that you have more time and energy to focus on the important stuff that matters.  This enables you to excel and be the best at what you are doing.

But saying no is also about opportunity cost and being willing to make a choice between one amazing opportunity or another.  Do you accept a place on an MBA course or do you partner up with an old friend to start an exciting new business?

The temptation is to say yes to both – only to fail to do remarkably well at either.  Maybe the business opportunity looks really risky, but you don’t want to let your friend down – are you really prepared to take that risk, because you can’t say no?

This is not to say that you should become uncharitable or unhelpful, or that you should abandon all else in you singular quest for success; just remember every opportunity you say yes to closes the door on another.

I am still trying to train myself to be able to say no.  It is not easy, as I like to please people and hate to see an exciting opportunity wasted.

Very often it is just a case of being honest and letting people know I can’t meet an impossible deadline, giving them something more realistic instead.  It’s a small start, but it is already making me feel much better about myself and boosting my confidence.

How about you – are you ready to begin saying no?

Top links and resources

Every week I actively scour the web for new interesting and inspiring articles and videos.  Here is the latest selection:


Don’t waste your 20s at Google or McKinsey

How to get promoted

Leadership & management

How a family-owned firm can beat the odds and pivot

How Zappos uses one-week work sprints to launch big projects fast


The big benefit of keeping your day job while running a startup

How two guys launched a print magazine during the recession and managed to succeed

Personal branding & online profile / platform

The former CEO of Ogilvy & Mather on personal branding

The complete guide to building your personal brand


Public sector v self-employment: A wager

Personal development

How to read more: The simple system I’m using to read 30+ books per year

There’s a selfish reason to be nice to others

Business skills

How to avoid collaboration fatigue


Tescopoly no more

How to create an ideas factory

Marketing & media

Google has another fast growing business (Hint: It’s not search)

Inside the hidden world of offline auctions for online property


Building a snowball


Back from bankruptcy: The billion-dollar families whose fortunes survived near brush with death

Greed is good: A 300-year history of a dangerous idea


The secretive billionaire who built Silicon Valley

Image source: net_efekt

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