I’m Not Able To Do That

Your plans for the New Year are rolling along. You’re full of energy, excitedly engulfed in playing out your vision and plans.

You’ve made the Shonda Rhimes decision —that this will be your year of saying yes to the things that scare you.

And then comes the inevitable. The tugs at your focus—the time-stealers that exert sometimes not-so-subtle pressure to change your priorities.

The maybe-new-client who wants you to take on a project that would gobble up the time you’ve set aside to write that book, develop that service line, invest in product development.

The low-budget speaking request across the country to an audience that just isn’t your cup of tea.

The “friend” (how did a colleague from six years ago suddenly reappear as a time vampire?) who keeps calling you for advice on their fill-in-the-blank ________ (business, job, life, relationships).

It might be time to practice this Shonda Rhimes line: “I’m not able to do that”.

Breathtakingly simple.

No hand-wringing. No guilt. Just a simple response to a request that is often quite reasonable on the surface. Just. Not. Right. For. You.

So when that invitation you are loathe to accept is presented? “I’m not able to do that.” No additional explanation. Just say thank you and move on.

The potential new client you just can’t serve properly? “I’m so sorry, I’m not able to do that.” In this case, it should be accompanied by either a referral and/or a future date when you are available (assuming this is work you REALLY want to do).

When an acquaintance asks you to do what you do for clients as a freebie? “I’m sorry, I’m not able to do that.” A nice addition is to point them toward the option to become a client. Sometimes, I’ll use a link to my Spark Session for exactly that purpose—if someone I barely know isn’t willing to shell out $500 for some kick-ass advice, why would I GIVE them more?

Caveat: I do love helping people on their way up and make a point of giving when I can. But charity (mine at least) is not for those who can afford my services but choose not to invest. Remember you’re running a business, not a lemonade stand.

The bottom line difference between those who make their vision reality and those who don’t is all in the execution.

Focus matters.

Which means you not only deserve to say no to anything that gets in the way of your dreams, but you must.

Where are you ready to say “I’m not able to do that”?

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  • Lisa

    Timely, as always! I was just contemplating how to say no to a potential project that really isn’t in my sweet spot.

  • Thank you, thank you thank you (as Gomer Pyle often said). Big help.

  • Right on!

    Generally I respond that’s not me.

    Other times I may respond “my clients pay me …… for this advice” or I bill hourly $x.xx (do not want to state in print in case rates, fee get “adjusted” upon evaluation; I generally converse with an attorney and accountant colleague on fees annually this month.). I do like your “Spark Session” concept; something to think about for us professionals.

  • Christopher

    Ed, it was “thankee thankee thankee”.

    Cmon man

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