I may seem counter intuitive, but in some cases, you can accomplish more by declining to do something. I had the opportunity to observe some interactions this weekend that led to this blog post.
Here’s the deal. As any regular reader of this knows, I’m a volunteer. I volunteer extensively with Revolution Annapolis, PCTC, and other ad hoc events. I’ve been known to pitch in for various roles. At Common Ground, I directed small groups, played in the band, ran sound, greeted people, planned a mens retreat, planned various events, tracked the finances, etc. At Revolution, I direct and play in the bands. I participate in the creative team. I will soon probably lead a small group. I hope to plan retreats and events. Despite doing all those things, I think people (at least Annapolis people) know that I am apt to say, “No,” if asked to do something.
The reality is that multi-tasking in practically any environment doesn’t result in better performance. Something is sacrificed for the benefit of something else or all things suffer. And often, the thing that suffers the most is your psyche. Having an overwhelming number of tasks or having tasks you know you will be unable to execute well creates stress. Say No to it.
This weekend, I fielded requests for technical things that with some effort, I probably could have accomplished though not with much assurance of success and with true excellence being an unattainable goal. Slapdash is very rarely successful when there are technical requirements involved, so I said no. Saying no was the best decision for all involved, but despite knowing and understanding that (and even agreeing), there were people incredibly stressed out by it. I, on the other hand, was at peace.
You can’t always say yes. If you want to be a leader, if you want to be an example to people, then you need to know when to say No. Also, if you want to maintain some degree of control over your life, you need to learn to say no. Otherwise, people will always come to you, rather than taking the time to plan something excellence. You will always say yes, then bend over backwards, then still have a product that is not as good as it should be.
Be diverse. Be a volunteer. Say, YES!, often, but for excellence’s sake, learn to say no.
It was an awesome weekend because of the people I had the honor to be around. Matt and Andy Spray are truly a joy and give me energy every time I hang out with them. Alan Ivey is one of my favorite people in the world, and I love getting to know his wonderful wife, Jacqui, more every time we get together. What can I say about Jon Bibb? He is like a brother. The ease with which I can talk to him is like breathing fresh air (as opposed to this Baltimore air). Jon was great to go to Chocolate World with and feel like a kid for a few minutes. Becky, clearly, is the most awesome person on the planet. Enough said.
It was not an awesome weekend in terms of how written off the event seemed to be. The utter lack of planning, organization, communication and effort that went into the arrangements were disturbing to me. I have been to regular church services that seemed better planned. It seriously bummed me out the more I thought about it, and the more I think about it.