A more ‘naive’ version of myself used to believe that saying ‘YES’ to as many opportunities as possible would work like simple math to compound my results.

Nothing cold be further from the truth!

Truth be told, this was a symptom of a more profound condition: an attitude of scarcity.  I was suffering from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). 

Saying ‘YES’ always gives me a rush. I’ll trip on the challenge for a while and daydream about the outcome. It makes me feel like a man of abundance, not the narrow-minded cynical. But in reality it is just food for that goddamn cookie monster that lives inside of me, the one that enjoys the binge and cries about the indigestion.

Eventually you learn that most of these shiny opportunities are more like trojan horses. You let them in only to see them divide and conquer your ability to focus.

What is even worse is that you let people down who would have been perfectly well off without you. It’s like planting many seeds but forgetting to water them. 

Let’s throw in a couple of quotes that anyone would probably use in an article like this:

Let’s start with Warren Buffet:

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”

And, of course, Steven Jobs:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

Sounds great and these guys have much to show for it.

Focus is everything because you will have to find a specific niche in a world if billions of professionals with an online connection. This means that you’ll be better off by getting absolute clarity about what it is you really do well and where you want to make a name for yourself. 

I put the the cookie monster is on a strict diet. And even though I am getting better at declining opportunities that are not essential to my goals, it often still feels like treason. I am a pleaser, so saying ’NO’ always hurts.

Fortunately, there is a way to minimise having to say ‘NO’ while protecting yourself from that misguided temptation of abundance.

But before we get into that we need to get clarity on what we should always say “YES’ to. It’s actually pretty simple: you should only engage with the things we can excel at on our own terms. 

I’m not saying this from a selfish standpoint, but rather from a perspective of devoting all your time and effort to doing work that you can and want to make amazing.

A great way to achieve this is by being authentic. The pure version of yourself, uncensored and in full flow.

That is why building an undiluted personal brand works as the best insurance against attracting the wrong opportunities. It’s obviously not flawless, but it will attract the right ‘YESSES’ and repeal most of what you should decline to get involved with.

You may be thinking ‘Baldwin, this is all sounds very narcissistic!’ or 'I thought it was all about growing by accepting new challenges' but I want you to consider it from the following angle:

When something naturally aligns with your world, you will probably commit to it and even blend with it. Success only comes with hard work, there is no way around that.  But the secret of performing at your highest level is when the work you do is mostly intuitive, when you operate in a state of flow. When that happens, saying ‘No’ to things that may disrupt that balance becomes easy and free of guilt or remorse.

We live in an online world now. It’s crowded and standing out is becoming a non-negotiable necessity. So do yourself a favour and position yourself as you really are so that the right opportunities can easily find you.

I can help you with that. I write a business development newsletter that will blow your mind. You should sign up for it below...