The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.
Sometimes you have to be willing to pay a painful or uncomfortable price for adhering to principles. And then you begin to question whether the commitment to the principle makes sense and is in your best interest. When I was “uh” between marriages and frenetically dating (so many women so little time phase in my life), a most difficult dating quandary was saying no to further involvement or contact when I knew there was no real compatibility, chemistry or basis for a long-term relationship. It was so much easier to say “I’ll call you,” and never do. It’s easier but in some circumstances it’s unkind. Some women (perhaps the more cynical and urbane ones) might see it as a man’s way to politely (or cowardly) disengage and think he might or might not call and get on with their lives. Unfortunately other women take what you say literally (some are burdened with values like old fashioned honesty and straight talk) and expect you to call. Kathy pointed this out to me. I finally decided that if the “no” was properly worded and presented you could be honest and also minimize hurt feelings. Kindness and honesty do not have to be mutually exclusive. When the date was winding down with someone I knew wasn’t Miss Right, I learned to say something along these lines: I had an enjoyable evening, but I don’t think we have enough in common to continue dating but I wish you the best of luck in finding the right person. I will say it’s easier to be noble and objective when you are rejecting but it’s painful as hell to be the rejectee.
Healthy people value their time. Without boundaries you are at the mercy of other people’s whims. And successful people are busy people. I have great respect for the rare person who can refuse a dinner invitation without giving some lame transparent excuse. When someone ambiguously says “I’ll take a rain check” you might be left wondering whether you should consider this a no and cease attempting to cultivate the relationship.
Learning how and when to be decisive isn’t easy but it’s really hard to be accomplished and live life large without boundaries. Time is a finite resource.