Recently I decided to disengage from some of the community involvement in my life. I’m not re-upping for a board position when my three-year term is up in May, and in the past week I turned down two new requests to join committees. The reason is simple, if self-centered: our two kids remaining at home are teenagers who participate in sports, and I don’t want to miss any more of their games.
Interestingly, saying ‘No’ is one of the hardest things for many people – and occasionally a challenge for me. That’s why my business partner (who’s also my wife) will sit me down every so often and say, “So tell me again why you agreed to do that.” The reasons for this inability to decline, at least in my case, are based on: 1) wanting to please; and 2) not wanting to miss out on something that could ultimately lead to more revenue.
Over the weekend I facilitated the recurring quarterly meeting of one the focus groups I lead. As the seven business owners presented their financial statements and “Rocks” (read: 2011 goals), half of them spoke of things they need to stop doing. They, too, struggle with knowing when enough is enough – or recognizing when less becomes more.
My recent decisions were made easier by the response I received from one of the folks who asked me to be on his committee: “David, your desire to be with your family at this critical time during their youth is respected and understood. We will indeed miss your wisdom and intuition about institutional dynamics. Please know that even though you may not be formally involved, your input is ALWAYS welcome.”
There will be more opportunities to serve down the road. Keep that in mind the next time someone asks, and your instincts are shouting, “I need to pass on this one.” Go with your gut. You’ll come out ahead in the long run.