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How often do you say NO? Really.

Posted on Aug 16, 2013 by in Leadership, Mentoring | 1 comment

The trend continues, meeting people that make me feel “not very smart”.  I am not sure if anyone ever meets with me and says, “wow, I have a lot of work to do”, but I’ve been feeling that way a lot lately.  The latest installment of humble pie came from Jeff Jahn of DynamiX Web Design.  Besides the fact that he has a name that sounds completely made up he is smart, diligent, and extremely aware.  Jeff said several brain teasing things during our visit together but I couldn’t stop thinking about a conversation we had:

Jeff Jahn

How much time do you spend with smart people?

Jeff shared a very interesting article with entitled, “Creative People Say No”:

– Mr Bellow informed me that he remains creative in the second half of life, at least in part, because he does not allow himself to be a part of other people’s ‘studies.’

– Sorry — too little time left.

– He is creative and, because of this, totally overworked. Therefore, the very reason you wish to study his creative process is also the reason why he (unfortunately) does not have time to help you in this study.

Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know. We are not taught to say “no.” We are taught not to say “no.” “No” is rude. “No” is a rebuff, a rebuttal, a minor act of verbal violence. “No” is for drugs and strangers with candy.

This really got me thinking.  How often do I say “no”.  Clearly not enough.  What does this have to do with spending time with smart people?  Jeff and I started laughing when we asked each other, what if we only said “yes” to investing time with really smart people who furthered our own creative works.  I get it, it is rude, we have been taught that from a very early age – don’t be rude – but – what if you had a compass for all meetings – basically – a measuring stick?  I know what you are thinking, you are not that smart so no one will want to meet with you either, fair, but the question is still valid.

I have always audited my schedule for whether I think I added value to that meeting; however, I’ve never audited it for whether that meeting added value to me.  My general rule has been I will meet with “anyone” because you never know…am I missing something, not sure yet, but I am going to explore this more thanks to my latest visitor to the Core Values Wall.

1 Comment

  1. This is thought provoking stuff here. I am hoping that through my persistence and reaching out on various outlets, you will say YES to grabbing coffee or lunch with me.

    Either way I’ll continue to learn from you!

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