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Yes, no or almost never

Yes, no or almost never

Okay, all you yes types. You read the blog about why you should say no and how to do it but you’ve been left pondering. The advice either really hit a nerve or perhaps left you a bit flat. How you feel probably depends on where you are in your career cycle. While there are no hard and fast rules for saying yes or no, the advice below relating to your career stage may help in those tricky situations.

If you’re starting out in your career…

Say yes! Yes to observing, yes to being part of the team, yes to the extra work. When you are at the start of your career, you don’t have experience or expertise to offer, but what you do have is a willingness to learn, to be available and enthusiasm. The energy and enthusiasm of new blood can be really infectious. It reminds more experienced team members how cool their knowledge is. If you want to be in the right place at the right time for a dream opportunity, you need to say yes to being in the room where the opportunity is served up.

If you’re at a career midpoint or well-established in a role…

It’s time to start saying no. You’ve probably been saying yes to everything, and everybody loves you – YAY! But you’re also probably getting frequent colds and telling your loved ones “just a minute” as you crank out another work email from the back of the family birthday celebrations. Uh-oh. If this is you, it’s time to start working out what you should/could say no to, or identifying things you can delegate or outsource. This can be really tricky. Saying yes has been an awesome strategy to bring you to the point of success you’re now at, BUT if you don’t change tack at this point you’ll burn out. It’s time to say yes only to the things which require your specific skill set, or opportunities which move you in the direction of your goals. If you’re not sure how to say no, read last month’s blog for some tips and approaches.

If you find yourself in the uncomfortable position of having made yourself essential in too many places, without other people who can do what you do, it’s time to upskill those around you. In the beginning, training others takes longer than doing the work yourself but in the mid to long term, you’ll be rewarded with smooth-running projects and teams. You don’t want to be the bottleneck on task completion because you have too much on your plate. Upskilling others is an essential skill for anyone wanting to climb a career ladder, do more, or even just have the capacity to continue to take on new passion projects.

If you’re a career leader…

Most of the time you should say no. Oh my goodness – something happened and the terms ‘expert’ or ‘guru’ have started to be used next to your name. Congratulations on your genuinely exceptional skill attainment! People want to talk to you. They want to know your methodology. They want you to speak at their conference, come to their meeting and share your knowledge. They even want to know if you meditate before breakfast. If this is you, this is going to sound mean but most of the time, you should really say no. At this exceptional level, the binary choice of “Hell yeah!” or “It’s a no.” is for you. You need to be passionate about the things you say yes to. All. The. Time. This means only saying yes to the opportunities that take you where you want to go. I am a very strong believer in sharing expertise and giving back to the community who has given you so much. The trick here is to be selective about when and what you say yes to. For more on how to simplify the choices, check out the short video at