Earlier on this year, while at Lotusphere 2012 and at IBM Connect in Orlando, Florida, I had the unique opportunity and great pleasure to finally attend live a keynote session from the one and only GuyKawasaki. As you can imagine, I had very high expectations about being wowed by someone who i have admired all along and whose books I keep constantly going back to in order keep learning more and more about a good number of different topics, specially, those related to social business. Well, that keynote was probably *the* best 20 minutes spent on attending any live session I have had in the last few years. I was certainly not disappointed a single bit! And I wasn’t the only one thinking that way, apparently. No surprise. In fact, just those 20 minutes made the entire week worth while! Eventually, it’s all about “Defaulting to yes!“.
In that keynote session Guy talked about plenty of really good tips on how to enchant your audiences, whether in real life or virtually, about your own product(s), whatever that may well be. This presentation in Slideshare covers some of the major items he talked about, although it’s not the actual presentation he used. But still equally helpful. One of those key messages he shared along was that one of alwaysdefaulting to yes! Basically, meaning the following, as Mitra Sorrells beautifully captured on a recent blog entry under the title “9 Tips From Guy Kawasaki on How to Use Social Media to “Enchant” Customers“:
“Default to a “yes” attitude. “Think to yourself, I will do what this person asks; I will be happy to do it; I will probably say yes even before they ask, even before I know what they are going to ask me to do. Always be thinking, ‘how can I help the other person,’” Kawasaki said“
Very powerful message, indeed, which clearly resonates with the whole mantra behind living social, i.e. helping others excel at what they are already doing without asking for anything in return. That’s, usually, how networks and communities operate in the open Social Web at the moment. But then again, and I am sure you would all agree, at some point in time, it’s bound to fail. Why? Well, mostly because, as we, human beings, tend to do with almost everything out there, we keep abusing such good will and good hearted mentality of wanting to help others by answering yes to everything to the point where people will keep taking advantage of it all, even if it starts harming people’s own productivity. It’s just as if we don’t see it and just care for getting that help without thinking much about the potential consequences we over-impose on others.
And perhaps till now we couldn’t do much about it, since we all know that we always find it incredibly tough to keep saying No to people. It just doesn’t happen. We are not natural at it, as we keep thinking, considering and pondering some more the potential consequences from that “No, thanks!”. You know, who wants to hurt someone else’s feelings by rejecting and saying “No!” to their offer, whatever that may well be? Probably no-one, right?
Well, here’s where we can all feel incredibly grateful to DanPink after a recent, rather thought provoking, blog post he put together under the suggestive title “How to say No . . . especially to things you want to do“, which is some really fascinating read on the power of saying No, but, most importantly, on how to do it well and feel good about it, without that sense of guilt that we are all far too familiar with.
And still keeping that flavour that Guy mentioned about always defaulting to yes! How can that be, right? Well, Dan explains it very nicely as perhaps one of our biggest challenges for this century; one for which it’s going to be rather tough to find a really good answer that would be applicable to everyone: “How do we say no to things we want to do?“
Yes, I know, how can we possibly answer that question and still feel good about it? Well, perhaps we need to look into two things that can help already venture a potential solution, or a good direction for it altogether anyway. Think about productivity for a minute. Think about your own productivity and effectiveness for the work you do. Think now how if you keep defaulting to yes to everything that you would want to do, while helping others, would eventually mean that you would have very little time to look after your own productivity. And in the end you may fall behind. So, in a way, you need to be the first one self-protecting your own interests before reaching out to others to help them. As Elizabeth Gilbert mentions on Dan’s blog entry, you need to start becoming your own bodyguard for the work you do, because there may well be a good chance that no-one else would be able to do it for you.
And that’s where the second element of the equation kicks in, which Dan also addresses beautifully with this insightful quote:
“I wouldn’t want to return to a world of limited options and pricey information any more than I’d like to return to a world of scarce, expensive calories. But I think we all need a little help dealing with our new circumstances and saying no to things that we want to do“
Indeed, I think Dan pretty much nails it when talking about how you can succeed when saying “No!” to not just the things you don’t want to do, but also the things you would want to, but can’t: get some extra help from others. That is, help others understand that as much as you would want to help out, default to yes, and participate in their initiatives and projects you may not be capable of doing so, for whatever the reason, and it’s totally fine to say no and feel good about it. No-one is going to look up at you and claim you haven’t helped them accordingly. It’s going to be a constant exercise of helping set the expectations of how far you can stretch yourself out without having to invoke that self bodyguard to protect you and your own productivity.
And just like good, regular and constant exercise is good for burning those unnecessary calories and fat, so will it be setting up the right expectations on your willingness to help out others achieving their goals. it’s not going to be a matter of just plainly saying no, but more along the lines of helping people understand that some times it will work, and how some other times it won’t. And that’s just fine. It’s just a matter of adjusting expectations, your commitment to help others, and, finally, put a stop on abusing people’s innate willingness to help out while killing their own productivity in the end. At the end of the day, it’s all about respecting and fully understanding the productivity of others and, in return, they will respect yours accordingly. And, believe me, that’s then when great things will come up!
So, what do you think? How do you say no to the things you would want to do while keeping up with your own productivity and effectiveness in the context of that mantra of always defaulting to yes without losing your sanity? An oxymoron right there? Utopian altogether? The 21st century chimera? I would love to know and find out more about it in the comments how you get around it…
Changing the World One Idea at a Time
Tue, Sep 10th 2013 4:43a Luis Suarez You know that summer is almost gone when September comes along in full force, work peaks up again a notch or two, and conference month kicks in. Pretty much like March, after the rather long winter months. I am not sure why, but it’s really interesting to see how both March and September themselves seem to be the busiest times of the year, at least, this year, in terms of public speaking and attending various different conference events over the course of a short couple of weeks. So as [read] Keywords: notes
The Dangers of Mediocrity and The Power of the Dip
Thu, Sep 5th 2013 5:42a Luis Suarez One of the things that I have always enjoyed, and quite a bit, from the Social Web, and the different social networking tools out there, and the main reason why I keep coming back for more, is that no matter how much time may have just gone by, the good content, the golden gems, those pieces of reflection and insight that you know you are going to bump into over time they keep resurfacing time and time again, making the mere presence on social networking tools just worth it on its own. Earlier o [read] Keywords: collaboration
Giving Up Control in the Era of Open Business
Tue, Sep 3rd 2013 3:02p Luis Suarez It’s rather interesting to ponder how, over the course of years, us, consumers, have been asking traditional industries to move on with the times and enter the 21st century (of the Digital Era), so that they could embrace and apply different business models, than those they have been operating under over the course of last few decades, to make themselves profitable again, in order to meet, at the same time, their potential new reality: a smarter, interconnected, mobile, always-on consumer [read] Keywords: facebook
Situational Leadership in the Era of Open Business
Fri, Aug 30th 2013 4:02a Luis Suarez One of the things that I got to appreciate quite a bit during the course of the summer vacation I took earlier on this month was having the opportunity for doing plenty of reflective thinking and one of the recurring themes that came up over and over again was that one of Leadership and how the role leadership itself is being transformed, in a now more complex than ever (business) world, thanks to the significant impact of digital technologies. Those of you who have been reading this blog for [read] Keywords: blogging
The Innovation of Loneliness
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 4:02a Luis Suarez One of the really interesting things in the world of social networking is how every now and then you bump into a specific resource, an online video clip, a blog post, a mainstream news article, a dissertation or whatever else, that is just so thought-provoking and rather mind-boggling in challenging your own notion, experiences, know-how, skills and expertise on the topic of social networks that surely makes you think about your own experiences twice, to the point where it makes you pause and th [read] Keywords: networking
Should CEOs Blog?
Tue, Aug 27th 2013 5:02a Luis Suarez Earlier on this month, my good friend, Euan Semple wrote a short blog post on the topic of how tough it is to put together that initial first blog entry, if you are new to blogging, and even more so if you are an executive. It’s just like the whole world is watching you for that first article and you just want to do things right. You certainly don’t want to look like a fool, never mind that feeling of being ridiculed by your peers if things don’t work out. You just can’t [read] Keywords: blogger
Finding Time to Reflect while on Vacation
Sat, Aug 24th 2013 1:02p Luis Suarez Once again, it’s been nearly a couple of weeks since my last blog post over here on The Perks of Being an Early Riser and I am sure at this point in time folks out there may be thinking that, once more, I have failed to keep up with restoring my social presence as I mentioned on that last article. Far from the truth, I am afraid. Over the last few days I have been doing something that I have been looking forward to for quite some time and that it’s always something that I can neve [read] Keywords: ibm
The Perks of Being an Early Riser
Tue, Aug 13th 2013 4:02a Luis Suarez I have been a remote knowledge (Web) worker for almost 10 years now (Back in November 2003, when I was still living in The Netherlands) and over the course of time, while I shifted from European based projects into worldwide ones I have been doing plenty of adjusting of work schedules to meet the demands of work and therefore become a night owl of sorts, but at the same time ensuring that work life integration is there, right from the start. It’s been an interesting journey all along and e [read] Keywords: connections
Digital Transformation – It’s Just The Beginning
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 4:09a Luis Suarez One of the interesting things that I have been exposed to over the course of time, specially, as more and more knowledge workers embark on their own journey of using social networking tools in a business context is how there seems to be this notion that we are almost done with that digital transformation. Meaning that those who have been using these social technologies for a while now feel like their work is done and dealt with in terms of that very same digital transformation. To them, it feels [read] Keywords: enterprise