how to say no

26 Oct

My friend Derek and I have talked long into the night—and in the early morning before our friends wake up—about limits. Commitment. Smallness. About “traveling widely in Providence,” which is a line that’s stuck with me all these years, even if I’m getting it wrong. With so many people advocating for saying yesyes to everything—we need to know we can still say no. Liz Danzico says we not only can but should.

“Something a friend said to me several years ago has stayed with me,” she writes in The Manual. “‘It’s easy to say no if you love something.’ Wrong. Wrong, I thought at the time. If you love something, say yes. Say yes to everything. Yet what did he mean about loving something, I quietly wondered on the side. Did he mean to imply having a focus for one’s passion was another tool to help make better choices?”

She apparently comes around. Her final thought is this: “No matter what it is—be it a business, a person, a piece of art, a career, a song, a family, a way of life, or a pursuit of any kind—it’s easy to say no to all the choices that will present themselves if you love something. Finding that thing is the hardest part. But that’s another lesson.”

Alongside her post, she ran this quote from the late Steve Jobs, which is a timely and poignant conclusion to all this:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the 100 other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the many things we haven’t done as the things we have done.” 

6 Responses to “how to say no”

  1. Nicholas Asher Istas October 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    Thank you. I love this.

    • Timothy Schuler October 29, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

      Thank YOU for still following this blog! Wow. It’s been too long Nick. Where are you currently?

      • Nicholas Asher Istas October 31, 2011 at 7:02 am #

        I’m in New Orleans. It has been too long, though. I’ll buy you a cup of coffee sometime. Next time I’m in Chicago.

      • Timothy Schuler October 31, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

        Definitely. Or the next time I’m in New Orleans. Do you know Civic Center or the work of James Reeves in general?

      • Nicholas Asher Istas November 2, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

        I’m aware of Civic Center. Candy Chang is pretty active around town with her public art, though I don’t hear much of James Reeves. What should I know about?

      • Timothy Schuler November 2, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

        He’s Candy’s partner. Had lunch with him up here in Chicago couple weeks ago. Just a super cool guy, doing a lot with design, music, thought, writing. Reading his book currently.

        What are you up to in the Big Easy?

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