When To Say Yes, When To Say No

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Common early-career advice is “Say yes to everything.”

 Ignore that.

 Before saying yes (or no) to any project or request, there are some questions to ask yourself first.

 The first question is about value. What’s the value of this project for me? It has to have a specific value. It could be name-recognition. It could be an opportunity to work with someone you admire. It could be an opportunity to develop a skill. But it has to have value for you.

 The second question is, What value do I bring to the project? Don’t sell yourself short. If you’ve got creativity, if you’ve got discipline, if you’re someone who follows through, that may be the value that you bring. It may be that you’re great at social media or you’ve got videography skills or speaking skills. Whatever it is, you have to ask yourself, is there value on both sides? 

 Another consideration and question to ask is, What’s your deadline? If you can meet the deadline safely for yourself and your family, this is a good reason to lean toward saying yes. If you can’t meet the deadline for whatever reason it may be— you have boards coming up, you’re expecting a child, there’s something significant going on at home— then say no. Because one of the biggest things that will advance a career in any organization is follow-through.

 It is also important to ask, Does the project align with my goals and values? Do I believe in this project and its objectives?

 Asking these sorts of questions is an effective way to determine if the request at hand is something you should take on or pass along to another colleague.

Maria Patterson