If You Understand the Power of “NO”

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

~ Jim Rohn

Inspired by the Daily Prompt: No, Thanks

Background: I participated in a program about a year ago, The Sloop Institute for Excellence in Leadership. One of my takeaways was a place card which listed the particular techniques that would best suit my leadership skills in order for me to most effectively hone them. There were 5 of them. Here is the fourth.

Part 4 of 5: Encourage the Heart

These days, there seems to be a lot more blame and ridicule coming up against leaders than there is praise; or, better yet, we might consider that despite receiving praise, we are still minimized by the very negative feedback, the kind of reactions and commentary that our attractive yet delicate souls tend to gravitate away from. There’s a term for that: rejection

I have 2 definitions that describe rejection from an experiential standpoint:

  • The strangling weed around core fear underpinning the capable leader’s procrastination, delays, excuses, indecisive behaviors–all things inhibiting to the fullest potential that he or she can live up to.
  • No one wants it and yet it is as common as a red traffic light

It was time for me to come clean and talk about this. I’m talking about these things not just because I see people addressing or alluding to them, but also because they are the very things I myself am uncomfortable with. I fear rejection everyday. Being misunderstood, not being heard, getting negative or even brutally (perhaps unnecessarily) harsh feedback–sometimes it wakes me up in the middle of night, wide-eyed and nervous and wondering if I will ever live my purpose if I’m always so knocked down by every criticism.

My neuropathways got a good renovation during a 9-month telemarketing job I did. It was then that I really honed in on my fear of the word no. It was painful sometimes. It was embarrassing. It was the scariest thing, like these people were going to jump out of the phones and strangle me. I think I might have hung up on a woman once because I couldn’t take her rudeness. To make matters worse, I was under the pressure of quotas imposed by my boss’s boss: the foundation of my very own university…that I was paying for. I was expendable to them. My success was only a gateway for their glass-ceiling success, their plaques and their achievements and their steady salaries. While there was a dinner held at the end of the semester for all of us callers, it never changed the $8.00-hourly-fact that I was just a resource. Nothing extinguishes the flame of inspiration quite like feeling used and underpaid. Even more than that, nothing makes all these pressures a reality of impending, unemployed doom like the word no.

I have so many great takeaways from that, at times, toxic work environment in addition to the many others I have been in. One of them is this: it’s not possible to just roll with the punches of criticism and difficult feedback. “Just getting over it” is not an option for the green network marketer, the hungry entrepreneur passionate about his or her business, the cold caller, the non-publicist reaching out to the Today Show to land traffic-generating press–it’s just not an option. Hearing no is like hearing someone say ‘wherever you’re going, I really have NO interest in going there with you.‘ The fear of rejection begets doubt which begets procrastination which begets discouragement, and that begets further procrastination, and we find ourselves isolated at a dead end; and it’s already a lonely enough road.

As a counter to that lesson I learned, however, I may not always be good at rolling with the punches myself, but I recognize that I truly am the average of the 5 (or so) people I spend most of my time with. So, diversify yourself. Be intentional about bringing on people who speak to your heart, the kinds of people who uplift you, who shape you, and who want to see you succeed whether or not it dovetails into their own success. Make them your average.

It’s time to redeem all those lost or nerve-wrecking moments. It’s time to begin encouraging the heart, from one leader to the next, on to the another..and back around again. That includes you too. You’re the next thought leader. You’re the next successful entrepreneur. You’re the next hit YouTube sensation who makes unique videos teeming of your genius personality. You’re the next author. You’re the next mother or father. You’re the next superhero. You’re the next inventor. You’re the next marketing expert. You’re the next YOU.

Negative feedback is just that: it’s feedback. It’s just feedback and it will never change who you are. In fact, it just might accelerate the process of your developing self even more.

There’s a green light for you. Now, keep going!

P.S. Sharing is caring! Others glean from your experiences. If you’re comfortable, share in the comments below about a time you faced rejection. Perhaps include how you might have overcome it or even if you’re still going through the motions of getting past it.


Did you miss the first installments? Get caught up!

1. Inspire a Shared Vision

2. Challenge the Process

3. Model the Way

P.P.S. Learning to get used to no is a big step. If you’re looking for a new opportunity to keep walking, check out my new mentorship program that starts April 1, 2013.

5 thoughts on “If You Understand the Power of “NO”

  1. I do some sales, and a lot of buying, so I negotiate on both ends. I’m still learning how to say my number and be ready to walk away with my face. It’s a very powerful learning opportunity to here no……. I learned that since there’s so many yeses waiting out there, hearing no isn’t a big deal.

  2. What an interesting concept, I enjoyed this. The average of the five people that you spend the most time with. Hmm, I am going to give this some thought, maybe I need to introduce myself to a few more interesting people to improve my average!

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