Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Boundaries are saviors















Social acceptance ranks among the highest of human needs.

Which is why it’s natural to want to say yes to everybody.

Still, your time is the most precious commodity you have.

And if you don’t set boundaries for yourself, people will set them for you.

Which, unfortunately, is why you CAN’T say yes to everybody.

And that’s the big challenge of approachability: choosing your company wisely.

Now. Over the years, I’ve always had trouble saying no.

To friendships.
To lunch offers.
To people’s requests.

I guess I was afraid that if I told people no, they would think of me as "unapproachable."

(Which is sort of a problem if your occupation is to teach approachability!)

So, for many years, I said to yes to pretty much everybody.

And I ended up wasting a lot of time, energy, attention (even money!) on people, projects and pursuits that didn’t match my interests. (For a few extreme examples on this, read Confessions of a Lunch Whore.)

Now, in retrospect, I don’t regret the choice to become more discrete about the company I keep.

Because even though my boundaries were floppy for a long time, I’ve now come to realize a few truths:

You DON’T have to accept every invitation.
You DON’T have to respond to every attention magnet.
You DON’T have to answer every single email you receive.
You DON’T have to stay friends with everyone you’ve met.
You DON’T have to go to lunch with every person who asks.

You DON’T have to pick up the phone every single time it rings.
You DON’T have to work with every client who comes to you for help.
You DON’T have to collapse your agenda for anyone who comes along.
You DON’T have to be friends with every single person you encounter.
You DON’T have to join every organization that wants you as a member.
You DON’T have to give your time to pursuits that don’t match your values.

You get the point.

It’s OK to say no.
It’s OK to turn people down.
It’s OK to choose your company wisely.

That doesn’t make you a snob.

This isn’t about snobbery; this is about discretion.
This isn't about rejecting people; it’s about setting clear boundaries.
This isn't about saying no to others; it’s about saying YES to yourself.


And especially in our hyper-speed, A.D.D., instant-gratification culture, setting boundaries is harder than ever before ... because there are more magnets for your time and attention than ever before.

So, what's the solution?

Well, nothing I can summarize in one blog post!

However, here's a list of required reading to help you master the art of discretion.

NOTE: these six books have been absolutely life changing in the past year.

And I read a LOT.

So, listen up. These dudes are smart:

1. Boundaries, by Cloud & Townsend
2. Where to Draw the Line, by Anne Katherine
3. Crazybusy, by Dr. Edward Hallowell
4. The Power of a Positive No, by William Ury
5. Value Based Fees, by Alan Weiss
6. Finding Water, by Julia Cameron.

Read those books, and you too will learn that boundaries are saviors.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How do you maintain discretion with the company you keep?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Share your boundary-setting tips here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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