If you are a parent you have said that word 338,612 times…today.
Can I wear my toga to school? NO
Can I tie a rocket to the dog and see if he can fly? NO
Can I borrow the car for my date Friday? NO…you’re only seven!
(Hey, don’t judge my kids!)
Sometimes we say no just because we are too tired to do whatever a yes would require of us. But most of the time, we say no because we want to protect our kids. We don’t want them to hurt themselves (or the dog.) We don’t want them to make a mistake that could haunt them for the rest of their lives.
I remember when I was young. I couldn’t wait to grow up so they couldn’t tell me “no” any longer.
One day I’m going to order those Sea Monkeys!
Finally, I’ll learn to juggle kitchen knives, and they can’t stop me!
Yes, I’m an adult, and no, they can’t tell me what to do. But that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. With no one to stop me from hurting myself or others, it’s up to me to make those good decisions.
The truth is that, as an adult and an entrepreneur I can probably learn a lot from those simple times when you tell a child NO.
NO…don’t touch that!
I tend to be restless. I get involved in a project; then something shiny catches my eye, and I’m off in another direction. I have business ADD.
But we all know we can’t be successful if we are not focused. As Gary Keller said in The One Thing, “Success demands singleness of purpose. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects. It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world.”
So often my efforts at one thing are diluted by my attempts to do too many. There is some self-satisfaction I receive from having multiple balls juggling at a time. But my lack of focus impacts my ability to deliver my best work, constantly rushing from one thing to the next.
What if I simply focused on one thing at a time? What if, each time I reached for the shiny thing, that new, exciting project, instead I slapped myself on the hand and said, “NO, don’t touch that?”
NO…you can’t have a cookie before dinner!
It’s no secret, drinking beer, eating pizza, and playing video games all day is fun. Doing taxes and paying bills are not fun. But which set of activities will have a better chance of giving me lasting happiness?
The pleasure lasts for a moment; the pain lasts for a lifetime. Epicurus would be disappointed.
Every time I sit down to watch television instead of devoting time to my self-development, I’m making the trade of long-term happiness for short-term gain. When I choose to sleep in over spending my morning planning and working on my goals, I’m making the trade.
Life is full of chances to trade the future for the now. We try to convince our kids of this every day of their lives. Yet, when it comes right down to it, I want that cookie as much as the next guy.
NO…you can’t stay up late!
When I was a kid, I was a football fanatic. I had Miami Dolphins pajamas, bed sheets, clothes, posters, you name it. At that time, we didn’t have much opportunity to watch football on TV. Monday Night Football was a big deal. I would beg my parents to let me stay up and see the game.
Usually, the next day I was tired and a little grumpy in the morning. It was always Monday Night Football’s fault. The threats would start, “Next week you’re not staying up!”
The fact is that it was Monday Night Football’s fault. But it was only one day a week. Today, with all the choices in entertainment and distraction, it can be a late night every day. And if you’re like me, it’s easy to burn the midnight oil even on work. (I’m writing this post at night.)
You may have heard it said that life is not just about happiness, but about doing meaningful work. Work that inspires or changes people. Or maybe not. Maybe for you it’s about cold, hard cash.
Either way, you can’t do your best work when you’re tired, sick, or otherwise limited by not taking care of yourself. So sit up straight, go outside and play, eat your vegetables and get to bed on time.
We’re not kids anymore. The stakes are much higher than the B I got on a spelling test because I stayed up too late watching Dan Marino. Sometimes you have to put your foot down.
I do it because I love you
No one likes discipline. No one likes to be disciplined. The inner child in me wants to do what makes me feel good. My inner kid wants to play and “forget about” mowing the lawn.
this is real life, and when I blow off what’s important, people get hurt.
It’s the most reviled phrase in parenting history: “This is going to hurt me more than it does you!” To a kid, that is dripping with dishonesty. It’s only when you become a parent that you understand. When you love someone, sometimes you have to cause pain now to create a higher good later.
Your mind is like a child. Left to it’s own, it will always choose the easy way. Without constant vigilance, you will drift toward the mediocre. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself flopped on a couch eating Doritos for breakfast having not showered in days.
At least emotionally you will.
Do you love yourself enough to say no? Do you have enough affection and respect for yourself that you are willing to cause a little pain now for a greater amount of pleasure later?
The world needs you, so don’t give it second best.
And stop playing with your food!