About 15 years ago, I was sitting with a close friend of mine, discussing how exhausted he was. He was feeling like a failure because he wasn’t able to keep all of his commitments. I started asking him why. After asking why three or four more times after the first the first why, he said “I just have too many things to do.” I grabbed a sheet of paper and asked him to help me build a list of all of his commitments. The list was one and a half pages long, 57 items to be exact. He then understood the magnitude of why he was so stressed out.
It is important to understand that my friend is one of the most productive people I know but his strength became his weaknesses. His strength is not saying “NO” to request for his help and then following through and meeting his commitment. His weakness was not saying NO and not meeting his commitments. The weakness led to his feeling of failing.
A few hours of discussing each item on the list we identified 30 commitments that needed to be removed. This process proved so valuable that soon he acknowledged the need for an accountability partner. We created an action plan with due dates for each action. Each week thereafter, he would update me on the action he committed to completing. After one month he had removed himself from 25 of the 30 on the list. The other five would take a bit longer. However, over the next 6 months when someone asked him to help he just said “NO.” Of course, he declined with respect and kindness.
The great part of this story is two years later when my strength became my weakness he did the same thing for me. I had the same problem, saying NO. I know understand when I feel like I am overwhelmed, I have to retrain myself to say “NO” with respect and kindness. If you relate to feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself if your strengths have become your weaknesses. Who and what do you need to say “NO” to? I would love to hear your stories; you can send me a message or just share your experience here.
Click here for David Chavez’s biography.