In most cases, these invitations don’t align with those three goals. After years of saying yes, I’ve had to start saying no to just about everything that comes my way. Jim Bunch, founder of The Ultimate Game of Life, posed the following question in his interview on the Creative: “What if you said no to everything that’s not aligned with your greater purpose?”
1. Mental Energy Versus Time
The truth is, you might have the time to actually do many of the things that you ultimately say no to. But by saying yes to those things, you take away mental energy from things that are valuable to you. It might take one hour to participate in something, but the opportunity cost of that hour might be an entire day of lost focus on things that matter the most.
2. Essentialist Versus Non-Essentialist
You can be either an essentialist or non-essentialist. And in many ways, it’s often the difference between being a professional and an amateur. Essentialists say no to almost everything. Non-essentialists say yes to a lot of things in the hopes that they might lead to something worthwhile—they usually don’t.
3. “Hell Yes” Versus “No”
Derek Sivers has a policy of “if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.” When you’re starting out, this might be hard to do. But as you progress, you’ll realize that this is a great filter for work that you’re proud of. It makes it pretty easy to determine what you want to do versus what you really don’t.
In choosing guests for Creative, I’ve said no quite often. Anytime I’ve not stuck to the “hell yes” policy I find myself in a conversation I regret having agreed to, or interviews that I don’t think we can publish.
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