Warren Buffett and Nancy Reagan Are Right

Three little words. Not to be confused with the three little pigs who, let’s face it, left their own mark on society. If only the first two had listened to number 3. Oh well, you live and learn.

The other day I read a piece in INC entitled Warren Buffett Says 4 Choices in Life Separate the Doers From the Dreamers. And when I got to one of the four choices I slammed my brakes on. I did. You could actually hear the tires screeching it had such a profound effect on me.

The “other” 3 choices Mr. Buffett says separate doers from dreamers are as follows:

1. Pick your friends wisely. Oh how I have learned this lesson throughout my life and career. I am very fortunate to have a small group of friends who I know will be there when I need them, even at 2AM. On the unfortunate side of the ledger I have also experienced disappointment and letdown by people I thought were my friends. It’s a fine line sometimes, this whole friend thing, isn’t it? But then again no one said it would be easy.

2. Go to bed a little smarter each day. Under the “you learn something new every day” mantra, this is something I try to every single day. No matter how small, I absolutely try to be just a little smarter than I was the day before.

3. Improve your communication skills. The Oracle of Omaha once said “One easy way to become worth 50% more than you are now at least is to hone your communication skills–both written and verbal.”  I take enormous pride in my communication skills, be it written or verbal. This particular one also struck a nerve as did the one I am about to share because I have tremendous fear that we are losing the ability to communicate with one another due in large part the digital revolution. But that’s another story for another time.

Three Little Words

Before I reveal Mr. Buffett’s final choice, watch this:

Now I know some of you of a certain age demographic may not know anything about this but back in 1980s this was part of a huge ad campaign led by the former first lady, Nancy Reagan as a means to get kids off drugs by focusing on three little words.

Just. Say. No.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” – Warren Buffett

And it is this choice that I struggle the most with because I am by nature a people-pleaser. I have overcome many of the traits associated with people-pleasers but rest assured I used to be a poster child for people-pleasers.

I had so many of the traits ranging from being excessively altruistic/philanthropic to a neurotic desire to be liked no matter what to acting based on what “other people think” of me to even blindly believing in other people’s “goodness” even if they are clearly abusive towards me.

I no longer have these traits and have not had them for quite some time. It was not easy but I moved past all of these. However, there is one key trait of people-pleasers that I still struggle with and that is just saying no. I struggle mightily with saying no. Regardless of the ask I have a hard time saying no.

How To Say No

It is an ongoing struggle I deal with on a daily basis. But I know I am not alone. And that helps. A lot. There’s a phenomenal piece written by Vanessa Van Edwards entitled How to Say No: 3 Steps for People Pleasers. The founder of Science of People and author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People, Edwards admits to being a people-pleaser herself.

In her piece she lays out three tactics to help us people-pleasers when it comes time to say no including offering an alternative, writing:

“If the person asking you for something is someone who you want to maintain a positive relationship with, you can lessen the impact of your no by offering an alternative that satisfies their want while being something that is more preferable to you.”

I call this tactic out among the three is because there are absolutely times, more often than not, I want to maintain a positive relationship with someone; so knowing how to say no but doing so diplomatically is very important to me.

The bottom line is we’re all human. We all have strengths and weaknesses and I surely will never NOT want to help someone — that’s who I am. However, I know it’s ok to say no but like everything else in life there’s a right way and a wrong way.

Very curious to hear your thoughts.

Are you a people-pleaser? It’s ok if you are, you’re not alone.

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