How is your current workload? Does the inflow seem unrelenting and faster than the outflow? When it comes down to it, might you be involved in too many or responsible for too much?

Many clients and folk I meet at events report overwhelm, priority-juggling adventures, urgency issues, no time, or even people to delegate to (topics I discuss often in “The Keep It Simple Book”).

Being the specialist, or the reliable one, the go-to is a heavy crown. I can still hear former bosses advising me “if you want something done, give it to the busy person!”

Whilst it can be brilliant for your personal brand and notoriety, I have noticed it simply does not correlate with career progress or the trappings of success. If anything it can lead to the opposite of your desires – stagnation and stress overload.

This anathema is confusing, particularly when your automatic response to extreme workload is ‘do more, faster’, leaving even fewer mindful-moments to rethink your situation.

Simply saying no to the next request may not sit well. What will they think of me? Will this work against me? Would I be missing out? How will the project progress without my magic?

It may be time to develop the skill of ‘saying no, nicely’.

Before you say yes (or immediately after you deliver your magic acceptance), invite the requester to ‘tell me more about …”. Enquire about the project. What stage is it at? What are they really asking? What do they specifically want? Who else could help? What exactly needs to be done?

And here’s the nice bit. Wait, listen, and ask another question. Let the other person unravel and broaden their request.

I have found that the outcomes of ‘saying no nicely’ are:

  • It gives you more time to contemplate your involvement
  • They elaborate more meaning you both realise the better solution
  • Another resource comes to mind
  • They end up changing the urgency or the nature of the request
  • They take it back themselves

If you end up taking on this new piece of work, it is taken on with more rigour that you previous habitual response. And starts to change the expectation that you are an instant yesser. Your brand elevates one notch!

Enjoy, keep it simple and keep me informed of progress.


PS – I am now working with Simon Emmett to expand my speaking business, get in touch with him when you’d like to have me at one of your events.