If you can say NO, You have a superpower.

Adnan Morbiwala
4 min readFeb 9, 2021

You will be surprised at the number of times you could’ve said no and reaped rewards.

Image by Kevin Phillips from Pixabay

As human beings, we have unique personalities through which we are identified.

The two most powerful letters in the English vocabulary or the most powerful word in the English vocabulary. NO.

If you are an entrepreneur, we have this habit of seeing opportunity in every request or inquiry that comes our way.

It is only natural, considering that, we need the money, need to pay the bills, the staff, etc.

However, oftentimes those requests tend to stand in the way of the end goal.

When entrepreneurs do accept all requests that come their way and chase after every opportunity that comes their way, they tend to slowly become part of a never-ending cycle of operational work which tends to have a snowball effect.

You accept one request and then you can’t say no to the next and then the next. Even if, these requests do not contribute towards your end goal in any way.

All of a sudden when you do realize you are a 15-year-old startup with yourself still doing all operational tasks. Catering to client requests directly and having just a peon to get them coffee.

It actually sounds unbelievable, but saying NO to an opportunity that might seem like the right thing to do at that time can have an unbelievably liberating effect.

Of course, you can’t be a quack and say no to everything because it doesn’t fit your idea of the work you should be doing, it is important to recognize and chart out the path you have set for yourself and identify those requests that make you deviate from that path.

For example:

Say you are an event manager. It is an industry that is run on trust and you are the founder. You have invested time and effort in building your company and because it is a service your team is your biggest asset.

You receive a request for a quotation during the event season, you and your team put together the presentation and are all set to get the account. The client who is a senior call’s you up and tell’s you that you as the founder need to be the single point of contact all through the planning process of the event. They will not be contacting anyone else.

You tell them,” Ok sure, I will be there.”

Now here is what happens, suppose it is a 3-month long project, you will be directly involved with the project and receive updates and requests from clients on a daily basis. ( From my experience of 14 years, I can safely say you can’t really do much else when on a big project)

Here is what you will miss out on if you agree:

An opportunity to put your team in the spotlight and for them to prove themselves.

You will miss out on approaching more clients for similar events through the length of the project.

You won’t really be able to market your company for that long.

And then the final nail in the coffin, say you do the event and the client is happy, they approach you for an annual deal for all their events. And there we go the cycle continues, you are the point of contact for all events big and small unless you end up saying NO at this point with whatever the outcome.

But had you said NO earlier here is what would have happened:

The client would have eventually agreed to use your team member

You would have had more time to drive more sales during the event season, hence even if they said no you would create more opportunities and increase revenue, and delegate work better.

Given above is just one badly written example, it is not a fictional thing, that is what happens to many entrepreneurs where I come from.

But learning to say NO even to the smallest requests if they are not part of your overall plan is tremendously powerful because you stay in control. You control where your company is going and do what is needed to get it there.

When you say NO to ad-hoc requests from whoever it might be, it means you say YES to whatever it is that you need to do. You free up that time.

Again, don’t say no because you are lazy or don’t be a BUM because you are the boss. But actually, ask yourself the question, what else could you be doing with that time?

Then say no and make sure it gets done, if you can’t find anything better to do, by all means, help out. We are built to help each other as a community.

Saying NO might seem harsh, but to be successful you sometimes need to be. Many people who have been successful over the years have proven this, some of the most famous quotes are:

The difference between successful people and really successful people is that the really successful ones say no to almost everything — Warren Buffet

Innovation is saying NO to 1000 things — Steve Jobs

Ive found it’s to build one product well than 2 mediocre ones — Reed Hastings

You wake up every morning with an infinite amount of energy, like a mobile phone with a fully charged battery. You can spend that battery fucking around on social media or reading something that adds to your productivity.

In the same way, you can choose to spend that energy doing unnecessary shit or working on why you started in the first place.

The choice is always yours, so learn to say NO, you will say YES to a lot more.