The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.
I don’t know about you, but for most of my life, people around me have often advised, “Don’t be a quitter.” Likewise, I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the old adage, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” And I think most people remember “The Little Engine That Could” – the story of the toy train that wouldn’t give up. (It eventually got up the hill.)
While that advice is good some of the time, it’s not good all of the time. There are certain situations where you should be a quitter. Let me explain.
In our modern culture, people rush from one activity to another. We often don’t fully complete one task before we jump to something else. At times, it feels like we’re on a treadmill and the machine is winning.
If you want to have more of the things that count in life, I suggest you consider quitting some of the things you’re doing. This concept is called strategic quitting. You need to give careful consideration to the things you do, and if certain activities don’t fit into your long-term life goals, you should seriously consider giving them up.
There’s a rather well-known psychologist who learned about the value of strategic quitting in a rather unusual way. His name is Mihály Csikszentmihályi. Two things distinguish him from his peers: a name that hardly anyone can pronounce, and his research on the concept of flow.
But his relevance here has to do with other research he was planning. He wanted to study productivity, so he put together a list of 275 highly successful people – folks who were at the top of their field — and invited each one to share the secrets that allowed them to be so productive. Over a third of the people said no. Many more didn’t even acknowledge his request. But the most interesting reply came from Peter Drucker, the foremost leadership authority in America.
I hope you will not think me presumptuous or rude if I say that one of my secrets of productivity is to have a very big waste paper basket to take care of all invitations such as yours.
If you really want more time and energy for the things that count, be a quitter – a strategic quitter. Learn to say no to those things which aren’t aligned with your most important values in life.
Simplify your life. Learn to say no.
Copyright © 2018 by John Chancellor