The Power of N.O.

While possessing the ability to say N.O. to people, situations, and things appear to come easily to many powerful, fulfilled and satisfied individuals, I observe many individuals struggle with asserting this simple two-letter word. Let’s examine the possibilities that fuel the resistance to using this two-letter monster.Over the past three decades, I’ve had the opportunity in my coaching practice to ask leaders, professionals, parents, partners, consultants and entrepreneurs, “what’s stopping you from saying N.O.?”Here are some of the most common themes my “field research” has revealed across multiple generations and levels of clients, and the hidden translations many were not even conscious of:

  • I’m afraid the other person will get mad at me = translation: I’m conflict-avoidant
  • I’m afraid the other person won’t like me = translation: I need their approval and validation
  • I’m afraid I will feel guilty and uncomfortable = translation: I’m not worthy
  • I’m afraid of missing out (FOMO) = translation: I need to be included and belong
  • I’m afraid something will go wrong = translation: I need to be the hero/savior

It seems pretty clear that there is a high price to pay when we say YES rather than say N.O. and be true to ourselves, especially when N.O. is the healthier choice.So here’s my two-word acronym to set you free immediately.Saying N.O. stands for NOT OVERDOING!Why? Because any strength overused becomes a weakness. Think about it. Do you have a bad habit or behavior that always backfires when you OVERDO it?Here are some hints:

  • Overworking causes burnout.
  • Overmanaging stifles creativity and accountability.
  • Overaccommodating leads to being disrespected.
  • Overeating, overdrinking and overexercising can cause health issues.
  • Overcaretaking results in exhaustion.
  • Overgiving can lead to resentment.
  • Overtalking forces others to tune you out.
  • Overbearing pushes people away.

The list is endless.Recently, I discussed my acronym for the power of N.O. with a very successful top executive seeking to improve the speed of his critical decision-making in certain situations. I asked him, “what would be your personal acronym be for the power of N.O.?” He was silent and replied, “I’m stumped at the moment – let me reflect on that and get back to you.” A few days later, he emailed his personalized version and stated, “for me, it’s NOT OBSCURING.” Within a week, he had improved his level of mental clarity and produced in writing with laser-sharp focus what he stood for and how he wanted to lead in the future.What about you? Is there a specific person, situation or thing you have trouble saying N.O. to? If so, select one area, name it, claim it and start practicing your own version of the Power of N.O. today because it’s never too late to own your power. If you like this concept, you will enjoy my ‘’Power Series” of articles which can be found here.

Are you ready to take action and be accountable for your desired results?

Do you want challenge yourself to grow professionally and personally? If your answer is YES to both for creating sustainable change, then contact Nancy to learn more about the steps for getting there.

Posted in
Nancy Friedberg

Nancy Friedberg, M.A.

Master Coach and President, Career Leverage, Inc.
Marshall Goldsmith Certified Stakeholder Centered Coach
Certified Now What? Facilitator

Leave a Comment