I have a confession. And I was in denial about this for a long time. I had always thought that I was pretty good at setting boundaries and saying no. I avoid signing up to help with the extra school functions, I only volunteer when I can, and I turn down opportunities that will add stress to my schedule.
But there was one exception. One enormous exception that got me in big trouble in 2015. My Her Corner members.
No matter the request, I would say yes. Pretty soon I found myself saying yes to writing job letters of recommendation, graduate school letters of recommendations, testimonials for businesses I had not actually worked with (I just knew the owners personally,) book introductions. I said yes when a member called, emailed, or texted me asking for my time to talk through decisions she was facing. And so on and so forth.
I didn’t mind saying yes because I love these conversations. Helping others grow their businesses is what Her Corner stands for and why I built it. But in 2015, it became a big problem. I began to feel like it was my “duty” to be available – and others started thinking so, too.
And then someone said something to me that totally stopped me in my path. This person had never met me and had never heard of Her Corner. That’s when I knew something had to change.
During my very first session with the leadership coach assigned to me via the Fellowship program I am participating in this winter, my coach said to me:
“Frederique, it’s pretty clear that you have a strong voice, are very articulate, but you are not capable of saying no. You’re overextended because you don’t say no, and you don’t have the capacity to think creatively to grow Her Corner because you’re always making time for everyone else’s businesses.”
Let me tell you something. When someone who doesn’t know you from Adam and doesn’t have a personal agenda other than to help you, he or she can cut through the bull sh** quickly and tell you something that is absolutely true. …. Well, it was a bit of a wake up call.
So we decided to work on this. But it’s not as simple as just saying no.
I do love our members. I do care deeply about their businesses and their success. Just saying “Sorry, no…” would make me feel terrible. So terrible that I would feel like a personal failure.
For me, saying no has to come from a place of gratitude. I need to acknowledge the gratitude I feel that they’re asking me for advice, and I need to acknowledge the importance of the work that they’re doing. “No” has to come from a place of appreciation rather than irritation. When I had started saying no, it was fueled by irritation. And that didn’t feel good.
“No” is such a small and powerful word. It’s not simple, but try saying it with gratitude this year. I have already started to, and it feels great.
Frederique is passionate about helping women take their businesses to the next level of growth and success. As founder and CEO of Her Corner, she applies her entrepreneurial spirit & management consulting background and business operations expertise to give women the springboard they need to move forward.