So I recently read this book:
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
In a nutshell – how to discriminate between the vital few in a society which glorifies the trivial many. How to make choices that will advance our agenda (provided that we know what we want in the first place), and allow us to focus our limited energy and resources on aspects of our lives where we can make the highest quality of contribution.
Needless to say, achieving the above consists of a fair bit of saying no. And not long after I had finished the book, I had the chance to practice some of the principles almost immediately.
A call from a respected person in my circle came: Would I like to perform with them in front of some Minister for some Chinese New Year event on the following Sunday?
There are several issues I have with their request.
- Firstly, Performing = Dressing up, putting on makeup, making small talk before and after, waiting for long hours just for that few minutes on stage – all of which are not quite at the top of my favourite things to do.
- Secondly, Sunday = My day of rest (which obviously does not include the activities stated above). That Sunday also happened to be the day when I had arranged for Skype supervision from Sydney – and I did not want to postpone it again.
So, my mind started going into overdrive, thinking how I was going to get out of this one in the most respectful, graceful way possible.
“Why? Are you overseas? Not around?”
“No, I’m around. But, I have already made plans to skype someone that day… And it’s quite important.”
I heard the disappointment, and it really disturbed me at first, to know that my response had been the cause of it. I had probably been expected to be really excited and thankful for the opportunity to perform at such a prestigious event, and to accept it immediately. My response must have been unexpected. Maybe ungrateful and rude, even.
Now that I am able to look back on it, I feel only relief and pride. I maintained my boundaries respectfully and honestly. I made a choice that allowed me to direct my energy in an effective way, conserving it from being spent at an event that would probably have no long-lasting benefit on me or my life. They would probably think twice before asking/inviting me to another event or opportunity like this… and frankly I am perfectly fine even if they never consider me again.
I’m glad I said no.