Business Leadership Motivation

The selfishness of saying no.

Twice last week I read the same old recycled nonsense about how saying no is one of the keys to becoming ‘’ultra-productive” and an ‘’extraordinary leader.” One article quoted the rich and famous about how saying no is part of some magic formula to becoming rich and famous. I posted the same comment under both articles:

‘’Imagine where we would be today if people said no when we needed help. I can’t take seriously any article or any quote that connects success by any definition with saying no. Selfishness will never lead to extraordinary leadership or high performance of any kind. I learned more from my poor illiterate immigrant Italian father’s work ethic than I ever will from Linkedin advice that suggests selfishness by saying no will make me extraordinary at anything. Say yes to helping people who ask for your help. It is the greatest reward in life. If you need more evidence, I’ll be glad to provide it. Thank you for the air time. Peace’’

That post was a big hit both times. It received the most likes of anything I posted on Linkedin this month. My post was surrounded by the applause of conformists who raved about what great advice it is to say no. Somehow, the saying no articles makes people feel good through the conjured power of saying no. It must make lemmings feel important to say no. Just nod your head in agreement to the recyclables regurgitated in one article after another that claims to have the secret to being the next big thing – the next great leader, the next high-performing celebrity, all because of the self-centered approach to life of saying no.

The irony is that the unfulfilled life stems from the selfishness of saying no. The self-absorbed pursuit of career ambitions at the expense of saying no to everyone who asks you for your time will leave you empty. The hypocrisy of advocating saying no makes that advice even worse considering that no one makes ‘it’ on their own. Who can believe that anyone achieved any success by having been told no? How many times have the advocates of saying no asked for help and been told yes? Saying yes is the heart and soul of mentoring and coaching. Saying yes does not mean enabling by circumventing the process with short-cuts. Saying yes means doing unto others as you would have done unto you. Saying yes is a higher purpose through mentoring and coaching people instead of counting material possessions, hoping that it will add to a rich life.

The greatest reward in life is saying yes to those asking for your time, your expertise, or just a word of advice and encouragement when it’s needed. There’s no greater reward than putting up ladders for other people. Others have done it for us. Imagine the mess we would be in if those who have said yes, would have said no and continued merrily on their selfish, self-centered path, leaving you behind.


Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., Level 3 NCCP (Nat’l Coaching Certification Program)
Head coach – Niagara X-Men Football
Owner – X Fitness Inc.
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Host of Blunt Talk Podcast

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