Leaders what is your relationship to the word NO?

The word NO often carries difficult emotions around it.  It makes us feel bad, sad, and guilty.  We do not realize that No is actually a complete sentence in itself!

The ‘NO’ I write about here is different though. This is about learning to have some absolute ‘nos’ in our life, that we simply will not let go off.   I found this very valuable to restore a sense of calm and ease.


I keep reminding myself that time is finite and so am I. There is only so much energy that each of us has, however, we tend to imagine that there is no end to this energy. The reality is there is a finitude about us.

If we know and fully understand that time is finite and so are we, then we must focus on what we truly care about. One of the ways in which we can do this is by removing things that do not align closely with who we are.

We sometimes get pulled in all kinds of directions and we feel we have innumerable concerns about life. ‘Concerns’ and ‘what we deeply care about’  are different from each other.  For example, we could be very concerned about the environment, the water crisis, and the politics of our nation. However, we may deeply care about our health, our financial stability, and our relationship with our spouse more than these other concerns.  We need to boldly begin asking what really really matters to us. This is about reclaiming our focus.

An experiment to do

Narrow down your gaze to the full reality of your finitude, your energy and time being finite.
As an experiment just pick out three domains, which are important to you right now, at this moment. Disallow yourself from picking more.  The domains could be health, family, career, service, relationships, learning, finances, spiritual growth, friends, or anything else that is important to you.  Ask yourself:

  • Which domain do you want to put your attention to, in the next few weeks?
  • Is any one domain going to get more significance than the other two?
  • Why do you want to pay attention to these?

When we put down what we deeply care about, it automatically removes a whole lot of other things from our list that we don’t care about as much. This is the meaning of reclaiming our life by removal.

Why a No list is important?

When we find our actions misaligned with what we deeply care about we tend to put more stress on ourselves psychologically, physically, and emotionally. There is no real satisfaction within us while we still go through the motions each day. Focusing on a few areas of our lives becomes really important as it allows us to remove from our lives that which doesn’t fit anymore. That leaves us with a greater capacity to align with what truly matters.

We have to teach ourselves an absolute ‘no list’. This is a commitment to live in alignment with what is good for us. The ‘no list’ allows us to make choices with conviction. It enables us to become aligned with our journey of growth and what we want to become. It keeps us on the learning road and doesn’t allow us to sway from the path.  We stay committed to become who we want to be, and as a result, we simply will not go to any of the things on the ‘no list’.

What can a No list look like?
  • Being around toxic company.
  • Invest in relationships that no longer align with who you are.
  • Talk to people who are disrespectful to us.
  • Live in debt and be anxious.
  • Rush in a harried way through the day.
  • Eat what doesn’t benefit me.
  • Work when unwell.
  • Waste resources.
  • Binge shop.
  • Think work when we are with family.
  • Hoard things and live in clutter.
  • Check emails, and phone all the time.
  • Be a couch potato.
  • Live life on social media instead of for real.
  • Use credit cards without a thought.

Importance of creating a No list to have a clutter free life, leaders.

My No List of 4 items for the last 1 year

1. No buying personal accessories or clothing items
It has been about 15 months since I bought. I decided to experiment and commit to a more sustainable lifestyle which includes not being a consumer when I can avoid it. What started as an experiment has been deeply satisfying.
2. No wasting resources
I have been extra attentive to recycling.  I repurposed furniture for altogether different use. I learnt to seek out repair shops. I pay attention to the usage of electricity and water in my home.  I  stopped the use of plastic bottles by carrying my steel bottle everywhere. I now write my name on reusable paper cups so I use them for the day instead of use once and throw. When I paid attention, I found many ways.
3. No toxic relationships
I have drawn some boundaries around this. Simply switched off from relationships that sap my energy and learnt to only make time for people I truly want to. Have learnt to politely say No. Have made time for people that nourish me or stimulate me. People who are aligned with my current values in life.
4. No credit card and debt
No usage of cards where direct payment is possible. No EMIs, No deferred payments, no payment plans. It is a relief to not track any of it and be able to stay within what feels comfortable only.

An exercise for you
Go ahead and make your No list.
Now look at your list and if it helps you, take it to a friend using the below reflections. It will help you refine your list to what you wish to focus on for the next 6 months.

  • Is your No list a guiding lighthouse?
  • Is it giving you direction?
  • Ask yourself why a certain ‘no’ is on your list.
  • What part of yourself does this list protect and provide for?
  • Does this list nourish you?
  • Practice the mantra “I am important and my needs are important”. It is ok to go toward what you want.

Are you ready to put down your absolute ‘no list’? Meanwhile do take a look at this video https://www.linkedin.com/posts/sailajamanacha_leadership-selfreflection-personalgrowthanddevelopment-activity-7074618972758806528-WFU1?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop on how not to speak to yourself, which can be a part of your list!
Recommended reads

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *