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Getting to No


My second favorite word is no. It keeps me from wasting my time.

Many people know I came to the GTD methodology as a client myself. It was liberating to get all those projects and next actions out of my head and off little pieces of paper and into a complete and cohesive inventory. I had a clear view of everything I was doing.

And I had a clear view of everything I was not doing.

My coach, Meg Edwards, showed me the Someday-Maybe list. As many of you know, Someday-Maybe. It’s a list for things you care about, want to be committed to, may even be passionate about, but you don’t have time or other resources to put toward it now. Someday-Maybe allows you to put the idea aside in a safe place until the time is right.

After a month or so of negotiating what I wasn’t doing over to Someday-Maybe, I realized I didn’t have enough lifetime left to accomplish it all -- and that was in 1999 when I had more lifetime left; not to mention a fresh millennium.

I confessed to Meg, “I need a, No Way, Baby, list,”

A noted trainer of clergy for the pastoral ministry, Dr. Howard Hendricks, used to urge his students to say, no, to one good and important thing every day -- if for no other reason than to stay in practice. No can be said with humility when we’ve consciously aligned our time, attention, and energy to our most effective purposes, and have come to terms with our mortal limits as defined by the 24-hour wall, and by a life that only goes in one direction.

Getting a few no’s tells use we’re engaging in the right amount of risk. Giving no’s and accepting no’s with equanimity mean we have taken on the right amount of humility.

And it makes time available for when the optimum thing comes along.


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