The Power of NO

In college, a professor once told me, “Saying yes to everything means that you’re saying no to something else because you don’t have the time to do it.”

A while back, I quit a job because it made no money.  I worked as a barista to bring in some extra income.  I didn’t want to take the job, but honestly I felt the pressure to survive and my photography business hadn’t taken off yet.  So, I took it.  It paid too little and I had to quit.  It was a dumb move to take the job in the first place, but I needed something and I had high hopes that I’d get a raise.

Dumb Topher.

Anyway, I quit right as my photography business was starting to take on some steam.  Things were going great at first…  Then work slowed down.  So, I started trying to get creative to bring in some extra business.  At a random chance meeting, a local business owner was telling me about his struggle to maintain a presence in social media as well as getting high quality photos of his clients.  My ears immediately perked up.  After asking a few questions I offered up some help.  I told him that I was a bit of a social bug and a photographer and he was thrilled to set up a meeting with me.

I was excited.  “Look at me,” I thought, “I’m so clever.  I can make lemonade out of lemons.  I’m a real Guerrilla marketer.”

medium_5980792927

If I market well, do I get free bananas?

 

When we finally met, I went over what we had talked about, but then suddenly I was asked if I had experience with web design.  I told him that I had some but I wasn’t able to create anything.  He insisted that I do some minor tweaks to his site.  I didn’t want to, but I’m a giant push over with the inability to say no.  So, I agreed.  That turned into major tweaks, redesigning whole pages of the website, filling out spread sheets, making a video, working on creating logos and signs, and basically being completely in charge of the financial stability of his store.

Wow.

What had started as a small offer to help out, turned into me running the show.  Not only that, but I felt so much pressure to make everything perfect and have immediate results.  We had agreed that I would be paid hourly and when I spent hours and hours  getting everything running and presented him with an invoice, he was upset because he didn’t see a lot of results and he didn’t want to pay for something that wasn’t making him any business.

This was a disaster.  Not only had I wasted my time, was not getting paid, but I was also doing a ton of work that I wasn’t qualified to do nor did I want to!  I didn’t even take one picture which was my entire goal in the first place!  I hadn’t set up any guidelines and when I was asked in the beginning if I could do something that I wasn’t good at, I didn’t say no.

The worst part of all of this?  It was all my fault.  I had to pay a stupid tax.  If I had been clear from the beginning about what I was willing to do and what I could do well this would have never happened.  And why did I do this?  Because I needed to survive.  The problem was, I needed money and when you need money you tend to take jobs that you would never take.

If I could go back, I would have just been honest.  I would have been tough.  I would have said no in the beginning and saved myself tons of stress.

Say no.  It means saying yes to what you actually want to do.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/ucumari/5980792927/”>ucumari</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
1 comments
Cindy
Cindy

Wow, that was a great lesson learned. it is hard to say "no." It took me years and the help of your dad to do so. I am proud of you for learning this lesson . . . don't forget it! : )

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