Career Advancement Requires Saying “No”

For those who are seriously interested in advancing their careers, there is one required skill that needs to be mastered—the art of saying “no.” Saying “no” doesn’t mean that you are letting things slip through your fingers, but rather that you are concentrating on what’s really important right now as well as what’s a valuable use of your time.

Unfortunately, too many people (myself included) find it difficult to say “no” to all the opportunities that come along. Why? Guilt is probably the number one reason. A close second is uncertainty. What if the one time you say “no” you should have said “yes?” But if you based all your actions on that logic, you’ll never get anything done, let alone achieve career advancement.

Warren Buffett once said,

“For every 100 great opportunities that are brought to me, I say ‘no’ 99 times.”

He, along with many other ultra successful icons, has learned that saying “no” is required for career advancement and business success.

I personally receive multiple invitations to meet for coffee each week. While I truly believe that it’s important to network and cultivate friendships and collegial relationships, if I said “yes” to every single one of them, I would no longer be in business.

The invitations I do accept come with a clear agenda. I know in advance the goal and time allotment for the meeting along with how it will be mutually beneficial to both parties. I find more often than not, however, that “coffee” invitations are not really mutually beneficial but result in me (or my clients) being cornered for a sales pitch or worse, free career coaching advice.

That’s why I caution my clients NOT to accept every invitation, no matter how much they are focused on career advancement. I also work with them on developing mutually beneficial strategies for extending productive invitations as they develop and grow their own professional networks.

Hey, I’m not saying that I’m in the same league with Warren Buffett. But I do know what’s required for career advancement for myself, and the clients that I serve. And believe it or not, it often requires saying, “No. Thank you!”

  • Excerpt from Be Career Happy! by Kim Monaghan

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