Eric Upton

Live. Learn. Run.

The Art Of “No”

There have been many a day when I’ve sat on our couch, reflected back on my working day and just had one thought:

“What the hell happened today?”.

In my line of work, it’s really easy to lose control of your day. If you are a strong problem-solver, people will look to you to handle high heat issues. I’d like to think I’m pretty good at creatively handling situations and people. I’d bet you are too.

So what does that talent get you?

Let’s imagine for a minute that your life gets tied to the string of a virtual kite headed into a storm.

    • Float left with the breeze,
    • Flitter right with a gust,
    • Dodge the lightening strike (unless your name is Franklin)
    • …and fall to the earth completely spent after the storm passes.

You can take your carefully orchestrated to-do list and goal sheet, wad them up in a tidy little ball and take aim on the little rubber basket by your desk.

Does that sound familiar? How does a person escape this trap?

Learn To Say “No”

Sounds simple doesn’t it?

You’ll have to accomplish two things in order for this to work for you.

Let Go!

In order for you to get back to your plans and goals, you’ve got to find a select few in your tribe to:

  • Trust
  • Teach
  • Give responsibility

For someone who is a perfectionist, might suffer from a mild case of OCD and can be a control freak, the knee jerk response is “It’s just easier to do it myself”.

At least I know it will get done, right?


You’ll get too busy handling matters for others that you can’t do what you need to accomplish.

You’ll become the proverbial “fireman”.

Secure your “select few” and delegate a little. Start small if you need to, but start letting go of the control.

Then move to step two…


I’ve learned that I cannot go it alone in this life. I lean heavily on:

  • My wife
  • My coach
  • My mentors
  • My friends

I realized, after years of the “Do It Myself” approach, I must to depend on those I work with too.

In order for others to develop, they’ve got to learn by doing. If you are so busy handling everything, your team will never learn how you operate.

You’ve got to duplicate yourself in order to advance your cause.

The right leaders will rise to the top.

Not all will make it. Only time will tell who will be the next leader in your tribe. Many will stake claim, but only a few will succeed.

You’ll never find out who they are if you keeping doing it all yourself.

Which will burn you out before they get to shine…


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Eric • 09/03/2012

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