"Better to say 'No' with deep conviction than to mutter 'Yes' to please someone or, worse, to avoid trouble." So said Mahatma Gandhi and we remember how his "No!" affect world history. And here is how this life principle manifested itself in the life of his grandson - Arun Gandhi.
Arun grew up in South Africa. He was beaten twice as a child - once because he looked white, and a second time - because he was too black. When he was sent to live with his grandfather, he was still seething with anger. In an interview, Arun said that the most important people turned to the Mahatma for advice, but he still found time for his grandson - every day for a year and a half he just listened to the boy for an hour. And that changed Arun's whole life.
I found myself in a situation where I had to apply Gandhi's rule - to be the master of my life and re-evaluate my priorities. This happened a few hours after the birth of my daughter. The next day I had an important meeting with a client, but I knew what to do. This time was set aside only for my wife and child. However, when my superiors asked me to go to the meeting, I tried to say as confidently as possible:
To my shame, my wife and the little one who had just come into the world were waiting for me at the maternity hospital, and I went to negotiate. Then a colleague of mine assured me, "The client appreciated your decision to go to the meeting." However, I saw the expressions on the faces of the client and his assistants, and they accurately reflected the question that tormented me: "What am I doing here ?!". I did not follow Gandhi's rule then. I said yes to please people.
And, by the way, this meeting did not bring any benefit. But even if the client had appreciated my decision and my company had benefited greatly from it, I myself made a bad deal. My wife believed me, and I did not comply with her or the child.
Why did I do that? There are two very shameful reasons for this.
First, I succumbed to "social hypnosis." No one forced me to go to this meeting. However, the need to please turned out to be so strong in me that I could not stand even the awkward pause that occurred in the telephone conversation with my boss, and I tried to release the tension - I said "Yes", although I knew I had to refuse.
Second, I convinced myself that "I have a duty to do this job." I knew in my mind that I was making the choice myself, but on an emotional level I felt I had no choice. This false psychological premise closed all but one path for me.
How can we avoid such mistakes and not say "yes" when we think "no"?
First, do not confuse the decision with the relationship. Sometimes we forget that the specific decision and our relationship with people are two different things. We need to consciously separate them to make our answers more thoughtful. First determine the right decision, and only then think about how to most gently and politely communicate it to the disappointed interlocutor.
Second, correct your way of expressing yourself. When we say "I will have to do it", "I will have to attend the meeting with the clients", we mean that we have ever decided to do this and there are no other options. The next week, however, each time before you say something like that, stop and replace it with another sentence: "I chose." At first, this will sound strange, and perhaps alarming, if the decision is wrong. But the words "I chose" remind us that every time we make a conscious choice - and it can be different.
Third, don't deal with people who don't care about your priorities. This advice may seem primitive to you, but only then will you be completely free! There will always be people who share your values. When you work with them, you will not feel "forced" to compromise with the things that are important to you. However, it takes time to find such a job. So start searching now!
The individual situations, when we say "Yes" instead of "No", do not seem particularly important to us. Over time, however, these compromises accumulate, and regrets accumulate. Australian nurse Broni Weir, who cared for the hopelessly ill in the last months of their lives, remembered what people regretted most before they died. In the first place on this list was the phrase: "If only I had the courage to live my life the way I wanted, not the way others wanted me to!"
Secondly: "There was no point in working so hard." And third, "It's a pity I didn't feel like expressing my feelings."
We are unlikely to reach the heights of Mahatma Gandhi immediately, but it is worth trying to live in such a way that when we look back at the end of our journey, we do not grieve that we have not lived according to our own priorities.
Greg McQueen, a Silicon Valley specialist and author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less Benefits, for the Harvard Business Review