The Importance of No

Question: Does leadership come from a yes or no?

This question could be interpreted in many different ways. Many would try to pick some middle ground to avoid having to be decisive. It’s a tough question, sure, but life is full of tough questions; sometimes you can’t choose ‘maybe.’ There is no option to choose ‘all of the above’ or any gray area. Some things are just black or white.

When I first looked at this question, my immediate reaction was to think that leadership came from a yes. You have to be able to say yes to challenges and say yes to putting in the effort to be effective leader. However, upon further thought, I have come to the conclusion that leadership comes from a no. It’s easy to say ‘yes,’ but much more difficult to say ‘no.’

Life is full of difficulties, and it is up to the leaders of the world to make the tough decisions. Many times, leaders are often afraid to say no because of the opinions of others; they could receive backlash if they do not agree with the masses. Just look at the election of Betsy DeVos. Republicans were afraid to vote ‘no’ on her appointment because of the peer pressure of those around them. It takes more confidence to say no than it does to say yes.

Leaders must also be able to say no to other things. There are many people with great ideas, and everyone should have the chance to be heard, but it is up to a strong leader to decide when enough is enough. Tasks need to get done, and nothing will be accomplished is a leader allows their followers to take control of every situation.

To be an effective leader, it is important to give all of your attention to the task at hand. For many students, this is especially difficult because of all that is going on in our lives. College gives us the opportunity to discover so much, and to learn what we are passionate about. In this quest for self-discovery, however, some become so involved in a multitude of things that their attention is not fully given to any one thing. If these students every want to become leaders are truly immerse themselves in their passion, they must have the ability to say no to other things that are not as important to them.

This topic has given me a new perspective on this question. My automatic answer used to be a yes, but I reevaluated my answer. And that is what I will take away from the question of yes or no. A yes is easy, an automatic answer of sorts for many. A no, however, takes courage and thought. This is where I need to step up as a leader. As a leader, and just as a person in general, I struggle with saying no to things. I worry about offending others, and I want to get involved in everything. However, if I ever want to be an effective leader, I must learn how to make the tough decisions and have the willingness to say NO to things. It is much harder to say no than it is to say yes.









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