The most important utterance of your professional life may be “no.” The significance of “no” is simple: it means you’re willing to take a stand and clarify your intentions.

Many entrepreneurs hate to say “no.” A friend recently told me that “I want to be open to whatever comes my way.” I suggested that he might as well stand in the middle of the street and let himself be run over by a truck. “What are you talking about?” “You are so talented that will be run over by a semi-truck full of undifferentiated opportunity if always say “yes.”

The possibilities for saying “no” are significant:

  • If you say “no” to a new opportunity that you know is not part of your strategic plan, you will strengthen your resolve and reach your desired market position faster.
  • If you say “no” you increase the likelihood that you will be respected and trusted. Most of us have difficulty accepting someone who always says “yes,” even when it appears to lighten our work load.
  • If you say “no” you are likely to be asked to do important things when there may be major obstacles to success. Though it may seem counter intuitive, people that can say “no” at the right time are seen as leaders through business minefields.
  • If you say “no” you will probably be more successful financially. People that say “yes” to everything that comes along may not see or have enough time to get to bigger opportunities.

Saying “no” is not about nay saying. It’s about demonstrating the courage to be yourself, to which most people in your life will say “yes.”