Can you serve on the Student Activities Committee? Can you help solicit donations for the next fundraiser? Can you attend the annual alumni dinner and give a speech? Can you help me with my lab report? Can you go pick up our t-shirt order? Can you help me finish my paper due tomorrow? Can you help coach the parliamentary procedure team? When someone asks you to do something, do you always answer “Yes?” If so, I am right there with you!
One simple three-letter word can be the cause of all your stress and worries. I am the first to admit that I love to say “Yes” to people when they ask for my help or need me to do something for them. Even if I know in my head that my schedule is booked and I’m busy all week, my first instinct is to automatically say “Yes” when I am asked by a friend or colleague to do something. I think it is part of human nature to say yes to people when they ask for help. I mean, it sounds like the nice thing to do. Right?
Over the years of being involved in 4-H, FFA, and now at college, I find myself saying “Yes” to people way too often. I love to help people and to serve others. Saying yes just seems like the right thing to do, even if it means cutting into my personal time. I often find myself having little to no free time because of everything I commit to doing outside of my classwork. I see this a lot among student leaders. I’ve also seen the damage it can do.
Saying “Yes” to everything and everyone seems like a great idea until have so much on your plate that you are stressed and forgetting about simple things like sleeping or eating. I have been in this situation many times. I can recall times in high school where I hardly slept because I knew I needed to get work done. Now, being a student leader on my campus means it’s even easier for me to say “Yes” to too many things and then I find myself awake at all hours of the night writing papers or working on projects.
Over the past few years, I have learned a very valuable lesson: sometimes it is okay to say “no.” Yes, it sucks and it hurts, but at the end of the day it will help you become a better leader. Oftentimes, when you are a leader and others look you up to, you can be seen as the person who can do it all, and they will always rely on you to do it. Well, you might not always be there to get the job done and others need to take on that responsibility too. Allowing yourself to say “no” to people will help them take the chance to step up to the plate and become a stronger leader themselves.
Just a few months ago, I was elected to serve the students of Wilmington College as their next Student Body President. I was so honored and excited when I got the email telling me I won the election. I was jumping with joy and ready to hit the ground running to make a difference for the students on campus. However, when I was elected I also held eight other campus leadership positions that took a lot of my time too. I knew when I was elected that I would need to commit a majority of my time to Student Government because the students are my number one priority.
After a few weeks had gone by, I found myself head deep in work, staying up to all hours of the night and turning in things late. I knew that this could not continue. It was time to start saying “No” to people and allowing there to be a shift in leadership in some of the organizations I was involved in. That next week, I resigned from five of those additional eight positions and it instantly helped me. I was able to benefit from it because I had more time to commit to the things that needed my attention, and it allowed some underclassman step up to plate and fill the positions I left. Yes, I felt sad to leave my positions, but I was also excited to see the younger students take on new positions and start their leadership journey at Wilmington College.
See, there can be a lot of value behind saying “No” when asked to do something. Saying “No” can allow others around you to step up and take on that responsibility and that will help them become a better leader. Great leaders have the ability to know when it is time to say “Yes” or “No” when asked to do something, and in most cases lately, I have been saying “no.” Since being elected to serve the Student Body, I have been asked to do a lot of things, all of which I am happy to do, but some things I knew others could do just as well and that they could benefit from more than me. When asked to serve on various committees here at the college, I was able to say, “I can’t, but I have other Student Government Members who can.” That allowed me to keep myself from overcommitting to too many things and gave my fellow board members an opportunity to serve in an additional capacity.
Saying “No” can be hard, but in order to be successful in what you do and to keep yourself from being overcommitted it is an essential skill that all leaders need to have. As a leader you hate to turn down an opportunity, but you have to keep in mind it will allow others to grow themselves in the process. I have learned how to say “no” more often and it has not only helped me have time to do the things I like to do, but it has given many others the opportunity to rise to the occasion and take on the responsibility of a leader.
Time is one of our most important assets, because you never know when this day could be your last. You don’t want to spend your life as a leader being overcommitted and stressed. You want to live your life to the fullest each and every day and to love what you do. If you love what you do then you will never work a day in your life. I love to educate and to make an impact on the lives of youth, that’s why it is my passion to serve and teach the next generation. As a leader this is what I like to focus on, how I can make an impact and that’s how I commit my time to things.
So next time someone asks you to help finish this project or to coordinate the next canned food drive, remember in the back of your head it will be okay and things will get done if you say “No.”
Author: Kameron Rinehart, Ohio
Ziglar Youth Certified Trainer