When I was looking for a job years ago, a friend gave me this advice: “Your goal is to get the job. Then you can decide whether you want it or not.”
That never quite felt right to me—why should I try to convince someone to hire me when I was certain I didn’t want the job? Especially when I genuinely liked and respected the team doing the interviewing. It felt like a con job and I just couldn’t do it.
Turns out that inability to fake it came in handy when I started my first company. And my second. And my third.
Saying “no, thank you” has saved my reputation, my brand and my sanity on more than one occasion.
Like the hard-charging CEO who just didn’t feel quite kosher. Couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was off. He was later charged with embezzling and carted off to jail.
Thankfully, he was not the norm (although a few of the certifiably insane have crossed my path). More often I said no because I just couldn’t see how to get the client what they wanted.
He wanted to zig and I thought zagging was a better strategy.
She thought her project should cost x and I knew it would cost 5x.
He was a hand-wringer, agonizing over every decision in minute detail (I work better with those pre-disposed to action).
She needed immediate attention and I was too busy to do the job she needed (oh, that hurts when you know they’d be the perfect client, but it’s ALWAYS the right thing to do).
Saying “no, but thank you” is liberating.
It says you have worth, that your time is valuable and you’re saving it for those who will truly benefit from it.
It says you hold yourself to a standard.
It says your future clients can count on you to do the right thing.
Because the minute you start telling yourself you HAVE to do the wrong work with the wrong client or the wrong budget, you’ve started selling out.
You’re diluting what makes you incredible.
You’re convincing yourself you’re unworthy of more.
So the next time the little hairs on your neck are standing up, just say “no, thank you”.
Your integrity, sanity and future bank account will thank you.
And you’ll be building your brand instead of dismantling it.
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