By Mary Dee Freeman, Professional Success Coach
One of my favorite movie scenes is from A League of their Own. I don’t want to give it away if you haven’t seen the movie, but there’s this scene with Gina Davis and Tom Hanks. She’s leaving and he’s trying to convince her to stay.
She said, “It just got too hard.”
Tom Hanks said, “It’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it great.”
I get Goosebumps just thinking about it. What a great line! All the best things in life are the most difficult to get. The very fact that it’s hard is what makes it special. We all need to remember that.
For Davis’ character, the problem wasn’t baseball, but her relationships. She knew exactly what to do on the field because she had a defined role. Off the field, she was a friend, a wife, a teammate, and a sister. Things got messier then. Her roles weren’t as defined and sometimes even contradicted each other.
I think everyone struggles with that to some extent. Everyone has their own roles to fill: parents and children, coworkers, employers and employees, friends and family members. There are all of these different hats that you have to wear and sometimes it’s hard not only to figure out which one to put on, but what to do once it’s there. Sometimes it seems like everyone wants something. It’s like being pulled in every direction at once.
It’s hard to know when to say no and when to say yes. So, you keep saying, “yes, sure, I can do that.” Even when you know you can’t. Eventually, you’re doing so much that you can’t keep up. The result is you’re running around like a crazy person, completely stressed out and not getting anything done. The few things you do get done aren’t done well because you were rushing so you could get on to the next thing. Everything suffers.
I used to do this all the time when I was a teacher. At one point, I was sponsor to three clubs, on three committees, taking classes for my master’s degree and working an extra part time job. Did I mention that I was teaching 5 full high school classes at the time?
I know what I’m talking about. To be honest, I wasn’t doing any of these things effectively. I did them because I didn’t know how to say no. Truthfully, I still struggle with it. It’s not easy. Just the other day, my boyfriend asked me to do him a favor. I had a busy day planned, but I didn’t want to disappoint him so I did it… seething with resentment the entire time.
I was so angry with him. I kept thinking, “Why do I have to do this for him? Why can’t he do it? He doesn’t need it done today… Why is he making me do this?” You get the idea. I had this inner tirade going on in my mind. Then, it came to me. He didn’t make me do anything. I could have said no. Duh!!!!
I’m a little embarrassed because I teach this, but I had to share it. I couldn’t let this opportunity go to waste. Learning to say no and own your time is one of those really hard lessons that you have to learn over and over again. I had to re-learn the lesson and here it is…
1. Get over it and myself. The world isn’t going to come to an end if I say no. I am not that important.
2. I set my boundary and told him how it bothered me. I also told him that I might say no or not today the next time. (By the way, I only recommend you explain yourself like this with people who are close to you. You don’t have to explain yourself to coworkers.)
3. Ironically, he didn’t really care. While he wanted the errand run, he said it could have waited a day.
That’s the funny thing about saying no. Most of the time, the people asking aren’t nearly as invested as we are. If we say no, they’ll find another way to get it done. It will be inconvenient for them, but not nearly as inconvenient as it will be for you when you say yes.
Mary Dee Freeman is a Professional Success Coach with WOW - Why Ours Works. If you like what you read, follow the link to her website and sign up for her newsletter: www.whyoursworks.com
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