Two simple examples:
[In response to a request to commit to an impossible deadline]: I understand that this is an important opportunity and that the work is urgent. I can, however, not drop everything else to focuses solely on this deadline, as I am already committed to X. I will, nevertheless, support you, provided we can find someone else who will take the lead and provided we can negotiate some flexibility around the target date.
[In response to giving up one of your staff members to another team]: I am delighted that you are impressed by my staff member and that you would like to have her on your team – she is indeed highly skilled and conscientious. It is, however, not possible for me to free her up at this time, as she is heavily involved in X and it would cause great disruption if I were to free her up on such short notice. I will, nevertheless, discuss with her to see if she can free up a day per week to support you, and ensure skills transfer to your team as soon as possible.
A way to gain greater clarity around your “big YES” is to follow Ben Zander’s idea (articulated in The art of possibility) of ‘giving yourself an A’. The idea is simple: imagine that you are at the end of next year, and you look back. What, during this year, will make you particularly proud? What will have given you a deep sense of accomplishment? What will you have done to receive a top grade? Write your report card – where the overall grade is A, and the report card describes why you deserve this grade. Now live your life, in the coming year, so that you live up to the expectation you have set for yourself. You fill find it easier to say ‘no’ when distractions come your way.
As today’s date is December 23, let me use this opportunity to wish all readers Happy Holidays. May you enjoy a time of peace, warmth and love in the coming week – in a way that brings you great joy and prepares you for the bright opportunities of 2017.