Overcoming the Fear of Saying No

“The Art Of Leadership Is Saying No, Not Yes. It Is Very Easy To Say Yes.” ~ Tony Blair

2014 started at a record low for my company. First, we had to terminate a retainership impromptu which was a significant source of cash flow. Then we had to let go our operational base; knowing fully well that having an office space in Abuja is no mean feat. Suffice to say, quarter 1 2014 was the height of the pain. Indeed, when the night is darkest then the dawn manifests because just as the month of March crawled past, it looked like the windows of heaven became vexed. The tides turned spontaneously.

Now in 2013, I had run a twitter platform titled #BSOCre8, an offshoot of the monthly BSO. This monthly twitter week-long summit hosted authorities in different areas of subject matter. What happened in 2014 is that so many referrals had generated from the series which prompted my escalated travels with well-paying opportunities.

When Pastor Chiemezie Ofodum, the International CEO of CFi (Church of God Mission’s Student Fellowship is called Christian Fellowship International, CFi and is supported by the Alumni Worldwide) invited me to attend and facilitate sessions in JAM (Jesus and Me) Summit, little did I know that it would set a precedence for greater platforms throughout 2014.

Mid 2014, I deemed it appropriate to visit my childhood friend, Samuel Omuya Audu, whom I reconnected with earlier in 2014 after losing contact for a decade. Sam had lost his Mother at the end of March and so it was good to go see him and Daddy. In the course of making plans to visit Jos where Sam resides, I thought I should notify someone for whom I had immense respects. I had planned to simply pay a brief visit to his office and say ‘Hi’. Little did I know that Innocent Usar is a master schemer of ideas. Upon learning of my plan, he literally occupied the whole weekend with appointments, sessions and events. I had never enjoyed being in Jos like I did that weekend. That singular visit has metamorphosed into 4 subsequent visits as well as bagging my NLP Licences (NLP is NeutroLinguistic Programming).

The direct impact of these escalations, and others too, is that I became so accessible and so vulnerable to requests that were both brief and time consuming. Virtually everybody needed a time with me. It wore me out quickly.

At the peak of these frustration about 20 months ago, I was in Lagos for a programme and I had a nudge to visit my Big Brother & Mentor, Praise Fowowe. He appraised my physical appearance and was worried that I looked challenged. He checked my temperature and concluded I needed rest. Praise was speaking from experience. He had also been exasperated from overflow of demands in the market place which always made an impression ‘without him, there was no alternatives.’

Praise said “Sam, everybody claims they want you but truth is, as soon as your relevance fades, they will move on to the next ‘Star’. Be careful how and with whom you expend your resources and energy”. That statement was an eye opener for me. It dawned on me that it was time to stop playing small. Like Marrianne Williamson puts it “you will not serve the world (fully) by playing small”.

I returned from Lagos reinvigorated and ready to run but there was a challenge. From my approach to work prior to that time, I had gathered a mammoth crowd of fans and individuals who had unlimited access to me. In fact, my Friend Tanwa Sulaiman has always queried how I could be accessible 24 hours, hardly limiting access time.

The usual pattern was “buzz me and I would respond within minutes” .. here I was, needing to regulate this frantically. So I took some critical decisions that massively changed my game for good. Some decisions I took included that:

I overhauled my core circle of friends. I knew that if I was going to think differently, I needed to hang around and mingle with different thinkers.

Next decision I took was acquire more books. Fortunately, one of my newest friends, Ebuka Anichebe, is a voracious book buyer and reader so it was quite easy to quench the limiting spendhabit and break free into larger book buying budgets cum reading.

I then started engaging young minds: males and females who had been admiring my work for a while. I engaged them into thinking of standing in for me whenever the need arose. I did this because I wanted to have the courage to refer them to any invitations which I felt was not mandatory for me to grace.

Next decision I took was to raise the lower limit of my fees. Prior to now, I was quite priceconsiderate but having observed that screening was necessary, I placed a ban on low fees or simply decided to do pro-bono (free) sessions. Any fee lower than my baseline would go to any of my Lieutenants. This freed up my work time the more.

Lastly, I dedicated more time to big profile assignments, aspired for larger projects and tried to spend more time with my friends to discuss stimulating patterns for the future. This has added immense value to me and my work. It has also improved my personal fulfilment time and time with my Family and Dog. Now I close earlier than ever. I also share moments with Alvin, our Alsatian who needs more cuddle time.

Beyond all, the lessons I learnt, however, include that:

  1. The Nigerian market that can pay you understands the language of PRIDE. Your pride as an accomplished, resourceful person influences the attraction ‘big fishes’ have towards you. (Credits to Tony Elumelu/Emeka Okolo)
  2. There must be a meeting point between your Professional Ego and Accessibility because what God rewards really is your accessibility (Credits to Akinwumi Akinola)
  3. Ultimately, being yourself and allowing your vulnerability grow you is your best message. People buy SCARS than PRINCIPLES.

m a k t u b!!!

I am Coach Sam Obafemi, lets dream together.

Culled from “My Valleys” by Coach Sam Obafemi with express permission from the authour

Popularly called ‘Coach Sam’, Samuel Obafemi has carved a niche for himself in the Strategy & Operations industry, especially for SMEs. With 11 years’ overall experience developed via working in several industries: Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, ICT, and Payment Card infrastructure, Samuel has a huge repertoire of resources that forms the bedrock of solutions.

After practising as a Mind & Emotion Therapist with niches in Stress Management, Emotional Intelligence, Anger Mastery and Peak Performance Coaching for about 5 years, he re-invented his market niche into core Strategy & Operations Advising with focus on Business Processes, Culture & Business Model Development.

Follow him on Twitter @sobafemi 

About Edward

My name is Edward Enejoh. I am a Leadership Alchemist and Digital Strategist. I inspire and educate individuals and business owners on how to succeed in life and thrive in a digital world. I believe there is a leader in you; allow me to help you make a difference to your world, gain relevance and grow your influence

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