June 27, 2019

Knowing When to Say No

In some ways, it is ironic that some of the best people I know struggle with dependability. The reason I consider it ironic is that they struggle with being dependable is because they are often overwhelmed by the amount of work given to them because of their dependability. In short, because they have proven their ability to get the job done, they are called upon to do more and more until they eventually cannot keep up with the workload.

Pushing to Exhaustion

When this occurs, because they consider themselves to be highly dependable, they will often push themselves to the point of exhaustion in an effort to keep up. Over time, this exhaustion contributes to a growing sense of anxiety that undermines their ability to do their job well. As a result, if they cannot change course, the path will typically lead to sleepless nights, burnout, and stress-induced illnesses.

Breaking the Pattern

There is a difference between occasionally working long hours on an urgent project and having to do so on a regular basis.

To maintain optimal effectiveness and do your best work, it requires making adjustments along the way to ensure dependability. Just as I have to maintain my car for maximum performance, it is important to consider how you are maintaining your career as well.

Below are three things that I would suggest when trying to enhance effectiveness and maintain, or improve, dependability.

  1. Know Your Goals. First, it is important to identify who you want to be and how you want to live. If you have given the role of CEO of your life to someone or something else, it is time to reclaim ownership.  If I were to ask you “Who do you want to be?” how would you respond? If I followed up with, “How do you want to live?” how would you respond? By identifying these things, we can begin the process of addressing the obstacles that are keeping you from becoming who you want to be and living in alignment with that vision.
  2. Set the Pace. In one of my earliest leadership positions, a friend of mine gave me an interesting warning. He said, “Be careful with that job. It will take whatever you will give it.” His counsel was helpful. Bottom line, you are responsible for setting a good pace that you can maintain over an extended period of time. Just as a runner has to be disciplined and establish a sustainable pace, you have to do the same with your career. If you do not, someone else will.
  3. Establish Boundaries. It is tough to say “no” to someone. This is especially true when you care about them or when what they have asked you to do something you want to do. With that said, think about the times when you said “yes” to a project when you knew you did not have the time and energy to do it well. The result can be catastrophic. If this happens on occasion it is understandable, but if it happens repeatedly, it is a pattern. Demonstrate a commitment to dependability by creating boundaries that allow you to stay dependable over the long haul.