I have written previously about the power of “No” as a key to stress reduction and an access to personal power. My purpose in returning to this “magic word” for today’s subject matter is to emphasize its importance in fulfilling our life purpose and strategic business and leadership intentions.
I recently spent a very powerful weekend with 83 very senior CEO Coach/mentors who meet once a year at the Hotel Boulderado in Boulder, CO to share, learn, develop their art, celebrate their relationships with each other, and most of all, to refresh themselves and their work.
They call themselves the Keepers of The Flame. The only real entrance requirement is an invitation and a minimum of ten years of successful experience as a Vistage/TEC Chair. All have very extensive experience in their work and have thought deeply about how to produce effectiveness and satisfaction in their clients’ careers and in their own lives.
We spent most of the weekend in a series of breakout groups, each examining a dimension of distinguishing and leading an authentic, purposeful life. To warm us up and get us in a creative mode for the weekend, we read “The Path of the Everyday Hero” by Lorna Catford and Michael Ray before arriving.
In one of the segments on “Balance and Prosperity,” we focused on a series of questions that you may want to investigate for yourself:
1) What is balance for you?
2) Who controls it?
3) What is needed for this balance?
4) What’s blocking you?
5) What needs to be done?
6) Your next steps?
It turned out all of the members of my breakout group on this topic could be regarded as very successful in balancing the rich and varied dimensions of their lives. In examining the “whys” and “hows” of their success, the discussion centered around the idea of leading an integrated life rather than pursuing balance, which we all felt was pretty much an illusion.
Focusing on a greater purpose or vision – a “Yonder Star” – living their values, and being the same person everywhere in their lives were the common access points to prioritizing and organizing activities and producing integration on a regular basis.
As very busy people, we realized the willingness to freely say “No” to many of the requests that come our way which are not high priority relative to our Yonder Star is essential to staying productively on the path and feeling nurtured in the process. To be able to say “No,” requires seeing that we always have a choice, in every moment. It is the act of choice that returns us to a powerful place as the authors of our own lives. While we may always be emphasizing one or two areas of our lives over the rest, we can redirect energy and attention to the neglected areas at the appropriate times.
Have you declared your Yonder Star? Do you have strategies and partners to assist you in fulfilling it? Can you identify places in your daily life where saying “No” will give you more time and energy for your priorities?