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Learn to Say No Gracefully



It is easy to say yes to every request on your time when the priorities of your life are unclear. When your  ways are not guided by a rich and inspiring vision for your future, a clear image of an end result that will help you act more intentionally, it is not hard for the agendas of those around you to dictate your actions. As I wrote in Leadership Wisdom from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, “if your priorities don’t get scheduled into your planner, other people’s priorities will get put into your planner.” The solution is to be clear about your life’s highest objectives and then to learn to say no with grace.

The Chinese sage Chuang – tzu told the story of a man who forged swords for a maharaja. Even at the 
age of ninety, his work was carried out with exceptional precision and ability. No matter how rushed he was, he never made even the slightest slip. One day, the maharaja asked the old man, “Is this a natural talent or is there some special technique that you use to create your remarkable results?” “It is concentration on the essentials,” replied the sword – crafter. “I took to forging swords when I was twenty – one years old. I did not care about anything else. If it was not a sword, I did not look at it or pay any attention to it. Forging swords became my passion and my purpose. I took all the energy that I did not give in other directions and put it in the direction of my art. This is the secret to my mastery.”

The most effective people concentrate on their “areas of excellence,” that is, on the thing they do best and on those high – impact activities that will advance their life – work. In being so consumed by the important things, they find it easy to say no to their less – than – worthy distractions that clamour for their attention. Michael Jordan, the best basketball player in the game’s history, did not negotiate his contracts, design his uniforms and prepare his travel schedules. He focused his time and energies on what he did best: playing basketball, and delegated everything else to his handlers. Jazz great Louis Armstrong did not spend his time selling tickets to his shows and setting up chairs for the audience. He concentrated on his point of brilliance: playing the trumpet. Learning to say no to the non – essentials will give you more time to devote to the things that have the power to truly improve the way you live and help you leave the legacy you know in your heart you are destined to leave.

(Who Will Cry When You Die by Robin Sharma)
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