Leaders Know How to Say “No” Gracefully

Does your organization try to do too much?

Every day ministry leaders spend too much time, managing too much church stuff, for too little life-change. It is safe to say that the church in North America is over-programmed and under-discipled.

Behind this reality is a super-irony: The result of our gospel work is limited, not by our lack of ministry activity, but by our excess.

  • We get too little not because of lacking motivation.
  • We get too little not because we need a better toolbox.
  • We get too little, and money is not the problem.

The gospel-centered, life-change impact of church is actually inhibited by the preponderance of offerings at church. We get too little precisely because we have too much.

It’s time to learn the power of “no.”

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THE QUICK SUMMARY – Essentialism, by Greg McKeown

The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy – instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.

Essentialism is not one more thing – it’s a whole new way of doing everything. A must-read for any leader, manager, or individual who wants to learn who to do less, but better, in every area of their lives, Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Leaders today often feel like they should load up their calendars to the max, doing everything they possibly can to expand their horizons and improve their organizations. In this age of abundant information and easy access to knowledge, leaders are often driven to have and do it all. However, this mindset soon runs headlong into an unfortunate fact: we can’t do everything.

Instead, we should be focusing on what we should do, thinking instead about what is essential to our lives.

Remember that anytime you fail to say “no” to a nonessential, you are really saying “yes” by default.

Without courage, the disciplined pursuit of less is just lip service. Anyone can talk about the importance of focusing on the things that matter most – and many people do – but to see people who dare to live it is rare.

Once you have sufficiently explored your options, the question you should be asking yourself is not: “What, of my list of competing priorities, should I say yes to?” Instead, ask the essential question: “What will you say no to?”

This is the question that will uncover your true priorities. It is the question that will reveal the best path forward for your team. It is the question that will uncover your true purpose and help you make the highest level of contribution not only to your own goals but to the mission of your organization. It is that question that can deliver the rare and precious clarity necessary to achieve game-changing breakthroughs in your life.

Greg McKeown, Essentialism

A NEXT STEP

Daring to say no doesn’t mean saying no to all requests. It’s important to learn to say no to the nonessentials so we can say yes to the things that really matter. Leaders need to learn to say no – frequently and gracefully – to everything but what is truly vital.

How do you learn to say no gracefully? Here are some general guidelines for delivering a graceful “no.”

  • Separate the decision from the relationship
  • Saying “no” doesn’t have to mean using the word “no”
  • Focus on the trade-off
  • Remind yourself that everyone is selling something
  • Make peace with the fact that saying “no” often requires trading popularity for respect
  • Remember that a clear “no” can be more graceful than a vague or noncommittal “yes”

Saying no is its own leadership skill and follows any skill development path. You start out with little experience, and then learn basic techniques. As you make mistakes, you learn from them. You keep developing more skills and practicing them. In time, you will learn a whole new skill set.

In this case, it’s the skill of saying “no.”

Sometimes abandoning what’s been around for years is the right move, even if you’ve put a lot of time, effort, and other resources into it.

Doing less will actually make your ministry better in the long run.


Part of a new series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, as biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here. Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

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Favorite Books of 2014, Part 1

It’s time to close out the reading year – just in time to start a new one!

A quick review of the numbers:

  • Purchased or review copies of books – 93
  • Library books checked out – 91
  • Kindle books downloaded – 55

That’s 239 books read in 2014, averaging over 4 a week. I’m not a speed-reader per se, but I do read fast – and I don’t read everything in every book.

Of course, reading is a big part of my role as Vision Room Curator at Auxano, so that gives me a definite advantage! Reading is also my main hobby, so even my “down” time often finds me with a book in hand.

In no particular order, here are the first 7 of my 14 favorite books published in 2014.

You can read the rest of the list tomorrow.

I realize this is a very arbitrary list, and has several books that may not seem like leadership books. No apologies there – I happen to believe that leaders in organizations of every size and type have a LOT to learn about their customers (all organizations have customers – we just call them different names). I also believe that all organizations need leaders who are creative and innovative in all areas. Finally, I believe that organizations need leaders who understand the power of simplicity.

Curious? If you’re interested in more than just the title, read on!

WhatGreatBrandsDoWhat Great Brands Do, Denise Lee Yohn

Some business leaders think of brands only in terms of messages and marketing tactics because that’s all they know. Others want a quick fix and would rather change what they say about themselves rather than actually change. Still others understand the full business value of a brand but lack the tools and methods to realize it. What Great Brands Do by Denise Lee Yohn will educate the first group, persuade the second, and equip the last.

MomentsofImpactMoments of Impact, Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon

Great strategic conversations generate breakthrough insights by combining the best ideas of people with different backgrounds and perspectives. In this book, Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon “crack the code” on what it takes to design creative, collaborative problem-solving sessions that soar rather than sink.

CreativityInc2Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull

Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”

EssentialismEssentialism, Greg McKeown

The Way of the Essentialist by Greg McKeown isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not  a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

46RulesofGeniusThe 46 Rules of Genius, Marty Neumeier

There’s no such thing as an accidental genius. Anyone who’s reached that exalted state has arrived there by design. But simply wanting to get there is not enough. A would-be genius also needs a theoretical framework, a basic compass, a set of principles to guide the way forward.

Marty Neumeier, acclaimed author of The Brand Gap and Metaskills, has compressed the wisdom of the ages into the first “quick start guide” for genius46 glittering gems that will light your path to creative brilliance. This is THE essential handbook for designers, entrepreneurs, marketers, educators, artists, scientists, innovators, and future leaders in every field.

BriefBrief, Joseph McCormack

Author Joe McCormack tackles the challenges of inattention, interruptions, and impatience that every professional faces. His proven B.R.I.E.F. approach, which stands for Background, Relevance, Information, Ending, and Follow up, helps simplify and clarify complex communication. BRIEF will help you summarize lengthy information, tell a short story, harness the power of infographics and videos, and turn monologue presentations into controlled conversations.

HowTheWorldSeesYouHow the World Sees You, Sally Hogshead

You already know how you see the world.
But do you know how the world sees you?
How is your personality most likely to impress and influence the person sitting on the other side of the desk or boardroom?

Once you know what makes you valuable to others, you’re more authentic and confident, and more able to make a positive impression. It all begins with understanding how the world sees you—at your best. How the World Sees You by Sally Hogshead gives you the step-by-step method to describe yourself in just two or three words. This short phrase is your Anthem, the tagline for your personality. Your Anthem guides you like a mission statement, helping you to build your team, write a LinkedIn profile, or captivate an audience.

That’s the first 7 of my 14 favorite books published in 2014. Tomorrow I will list the final 7.