Have you ever gotten caught up in the excitement of someone or something new and agreed to more or sooner than was really good for you? It’s pretty common and it can affect our personal lives, our work lives, and our work life balance.
I was about to tell a story about a client to illustrate this point further, when I realized that I was doing it myself. In my excitement, I was about to tell you a story that’s not mine to tell. So now I’m back pedaling, which is a sadly familiar experience. In my desire to connect with people, you in this case, I’ll can agree to things without thinking it through.
Once, when I was younger, I was managing a project and everyone had such great ideas. Every idea made the project so much better that, of course, I had to say yes. And so I said yes, and yes, and yes. And even though the project kept getting better (and bigger), it was finally canceled because we weren’t getting the work done. We were spending too much time going back and changing things to include the new ideas.
At the same time, saying no can also be a problem. Often times we say no out of uncertainty, fear, or laziness.
One of my favorite analogies is of a kite. Do you know what makes a kite fly so high? It takes both the wind and the person on the ground holding the string. If either goes missing, the kite will simply crash. So, what we need are ways of allowing ourselves to both to be the excited dreamer and also to ground ourselves at the same time.
Here are some responses that can help create a ‘yes’ that meets our needs better or a clear ‘no’ when that’s the better choice.
- Let’s Meet Again Next Week – This let’s us both express our excitement and have an opportunity to think about.
- Great! Given our current workload, it will take ___ days / weeks / … – This let’s us say yes, but also puts our yes into context with our other agreements so that we can meet them all.
- Gut Check – I had the opportunity to go out with my partner last night to visit with some friends and I chose not to. My natural tendency would be to say yes, simply to go along with the energy. And I probably would have had a good time. And yet, when I checked in with myself, the answer was no. Now, after the fact, I could give you “reasons”. But they would all be made up. The truth of the matter is that the answer was simply ‘no’ and I don’t know why.
At the end of the day, saying yes or no is a package deal. They both have consequences that are worth thinking through and feeling through. Thinking can help identify the stuff we can know about. Feeling it through can help us use our intuition to navigate the stuff we can’t know about.
Excitement is the wind lifting us up and giving ourselves some time can help connect us to the ground so that we can fly our highest and best.