11 years as a Congressional Field Representative taught me a very valuable life lesson – How to say No!
Constituents wanted a speaker, a ribbon cutter, a grant writer, coach, project coordinator, and problem solver. And why not the Congressman’s aide? During those eleven years I helped individuals and groups, cities, counties and special districts with every conceivable problem. We built bridges, found a bridge to buy, dedicated wildlife refuges, saved U.S. Coast Guard Services, got special funding for docks, ports, dams, and parks. Each project had one specific characteristic – it matched the Congressman’s goals.
During those eleven years I read a number of excellent books on management, leadership, and time management. I don’t remember which one had the magic phrase for me, but it’s stuck after all these years. When someone calls, writes, or drops by and has a request for some use of your time go ahead and use the phrase I’ll have to check my schedule, but instead check your goals.
Does the event, project, time, speech, etc. further your goals, and in that case it was the goals of the Congressman? When the answer was yes I took the project on personally. If it didn’t I found someone or agency to help them meet their goal. It wasn’t so much that I needed to help them, just getting them help when they had no idea where to turn was the answer.
This week’s theme is “Don’t be afraid to say no”. The power of establishing boundaries is critical to everyone’s well being. Don’t let people talk you into doing things you don’t really want to do. Conversely, when you take on a project to help others, don’t let them down. Put all your energy into helping them achieve their goal. You’ll find your time is better spent and you won’t feel guilty because you learned to say no.