Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating. Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation. The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time. No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes.
Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know. We are not taught to say “no.” We are taught not to say “no.” “No” is rude. “No” is a rebuff, a rebuttal, a minor act of verbal violence. “No” is for drugs and strangers with candy.
I used to say “Yes” a lot. Yes is the catalyst of serendipity and socializing. It is an amazing way to traverse the world and I love seeing friends and meeting new people.
Lately however, I’m saying “No” so much more. I feel badly, but I also get giddy when I see a day on my calendar with ZERO appointments. And frankly, I need that. I need those long unstructured days to get in the zone and think through the building of a company.
Point is, it’s hard to balance and I’ll never get it perfect. None of us ever will. Anyway, this post is a call to arms for those who say “No.”