The danger of not saying no

In life we are constantly presented with opportunities to either further our careers or to help others.  For those of us, who want to either be on the fast track for our careers or want to help everyone and their brother, it is often hard to say no to any request – but there are times we should.

It started with just one request…

I have, for better or worse, throughout my life have been a people pleaser.  I believe it started when I was young.  Like most young children, I strived to please my parents.  I craved the praises, pride and awards my parents gave me when I did something good or something that pleased them.

For most people, as they grow older, they shift from being a complete people pleaser to a healthy balance of being a people pleaser and someone who strived not to do things that hurt, disappoint, or anger others.

For most of my life, I used people pleasing as I strived (often failing) at not disappointing or angering others.

To this day, I sill crave the praise of others and I am still a people pleaser.  There are times that being a people pleaser have served me well, while other times it has caused me more problems than it was worth.

It started off with one opportunity.

Back in early 2018 I was becoming very involved in Toastmasters.  In late January of that year, I attended a TLI – Toastmasters learning Institute.  At the institute I met the president of a different Toastmasters club in my area.

Within a few weeks, I along with my wife Kimberly, wound up joining that club.

The president of the club was quite impressed with our web sites (mine was undergoing a major overhaul and my wives was still being built).  She offered me the position of VP PR (Vice president Public Relations).   I was honored!  I was impressed!  I felt the experience of VP PR would help me grow my own business.  Because I was a people pleaser and my ego was inflating (somebody actually wanted me to do something) I quickly said yes to the offer.

Shortly afterwards I was asked to be a judge at the regional speech competition for Toastmasters.  Of course, I said yes to this honor which came with a price tag – I needed to quickly complete six speeches to meet the requirement to be a evaluator at the competition.

I nearly put everything else on hold in my professional life and started writing, memorizing, practicing and delivering speeches as often as I could to get my six speeches done in time to qualify for the competition.

Once my work in the speech competition was over, weekends were consumed with Toastmasters activities and my week was becoming consumed, as VP PR for a club, with Toastmasters duties.

By August most of my days were spent writing speeches to deliver at meetings, working on public relations projects for my club, and assisting the district with their PR projects.  I was living and breathing nothing but Toastmasters from the moment I woke up in the morning until I feel asleep at night – all because I had said yes to very opportunity that was offered to me.

I began to feel overwhelmed.  I was feeling that I was not getting any work done for my own career and I was not having the quality time I wanted with my wife – especially Friday evenings that I have always set aside just for us.

Not saying no contributed to an epic collapse

In the early hours of August 31st, a text message came in on my phone.  It was a simple text message.  The message informed members that there were several roles that were not yet filled on the agenda.  It was sent by the week’s meeting toastmaster and it was sent out to every member of the club.

That text message was the topping that set me off.  Combining my fatigue and unhappiness from spending what seemed like every waking minute working on Toastmasters projects instead of projects that could build my professional brand, and a personality conflict that I had with a member of our club, I shot back an epic response that lead to extensive collateral damage.

Five months have passed since that epic day.  I am no longer the VP PR or even a member of that Toastmasters club.  I am spending most of my days building my professional brand and yet still involved in toastmasters at a level that makes me happy.

I try to learn something from every situation, both good and bad, that I experience in life. 

What I learned from this experience is that if I had said either “no” or “not right now” to some of the opportunities I had jumped at, I would not have put myself in a situation that lead to an epic fail.  I would probably be in that toastmasters club today, serving as VP PR and would have been happier creating a better balance between building my brand and serving Toastmasters than what I did do, trying to be a rock star in Toastmasters and achieving every Toastmasters goal at once.