(This is Part 7 of The Coach in Your Head series. Read Part 6 here.)
As life goes on you have more and more options–places to go, people to see, and things to do. Good–sounds like fun. But if you’re like most people, over time you will quietly accumulate all of the above to the point that you’ll hit a wall and find that life has lost its life. The coach in your head can help keep you in a healthy place so you can breathe and live in a more focused way.
Saying “No” In Each Season of Life
I learned this from Bobby Clinton, retired professor of leadership, whose book The Making of a Leader was foundational in my growth, and I took two courses from Dr. Clinton for my doctoral work at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Here’s the rule:
In your Twenties say “Yes” to everything. Check it all out. Places, people, things. Go skydiving if you want.
In your Thirties, start to say “No”. By now you know that certain P/P/Ts aren’t for you. Not in your wheelhouse, not worth giving time to.
In your Forties, say “No” more than you say “Yes”.
In your Fifties, generally say “No”.
Focus on Your Life’s Calling
Here’s what Clinton is saying. Over time, good leaders find out what they’re good at, and what is life-giving to them. They learn to say no to more and more things, because they want to stay focused on the central issues of their life’s calling.
Example: When I was a young pastor, in my Twenties, I was asked to speak at a “Prophecy Conference”. Somebody knew I was a good speaker, and they were sponsoring this conference about the end times as predicted in the Bible. “Why not?”, I thought. “I can do this!” Of course, that event ranks as one of the worst experiences of my life–and you couldn’t convince me today to speak at a prophecy conference for any price. I learned my lesson, but I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t tried. (For those of you who were there, I sincerely hope that you’ve lost your notes and have gotten meaningful work by now.)
The coach in your head can help you gain focus. See the 20-30-40-50 as a helpful template as you regularly perform spring cleaning in your life. If I can help you, let me know.