This is a great piece that, although has a business focus, has great interpretations into personal life as well:
The sun is an incredibly powerful source of energy. It showers the earth with billions of kilowatts of energy every hour. Yet with minimal protection, say a hat and some sunscreen, you can bask in the sunlight with few negative effects. The sun generates loads of power, but it is diffused over the entire solar system.
On the other hand, a laser is a relatively weak source of energy. It generates only a few kilowatts per hours, but focuses it in a cohesive stream of light, producing intense heat and power. With a laser, you can drill a hole in a diamond or even defeat certain types of cancer.
So, as you think of your personal goals, your team or your family, ask yourself, “Am I a sun or a laser?”
Saying “No” to activities that do not support your goals help maintains a laser-like focus.
Saying “No” helped Walgreens outperform the stock market average 15 times between 1975 and 2000. At one point, Walgreens owned more than 500 restaurants. They decided their future was in convenience drug stores and that they would be out of the restaurant business in five years – they redefined their boat. They courageously stuck to their commitment, which required saying “No” many times to ensure a redirection of resources to their new future.
Saying “No” also applies to the day-to-day decisions we make as leaders. For example, if we spend two hours in a meeting that does not help our team achieve its goals, we pay an opportunity cost by spending time on non-value-added tasks. If we find ourselves saying, “That was a waste of time,” or “Why was I attending that meeting?” – these are signs we need to say “No.”
Meetings are an important way to conduct business, but think about the salaries of each attendee and the potential time they could be working on other important goals instead of being in the meeting. Since leaders decide how to use their employees’ time, they must ensure a good return for their time investment. Meetings can be both necessary and useful, but they can also diffuse our focus.
When we know when to say “No”, we keep a laser-like focus that lights our path to success!
- by Lee J. Colan