June 2014 Newsletter – Learning to Say “No”

Letter from the EditorLetter from the Editor

The other day my bulldog, Cooper, began barking incessantly. It was the kind of bark where I just knew something was outside. So, I looked out the window and there she was… A momma bear and her baby! She and her cub were absolutely beautiful, and as I reflect on that morning, it occurred to me what I might have missed had I not been present to what Cooper was telling me.

The world around us is a wondrous thing. There is beauty everywhere, whether we live in the mountains, the desert, the plains, or on the coast, but so often we are lulled into a complacency of sorts. We are so busy doing stuff that we don’t take the time to be present to what is around us.

So, as we journey through these summer months, I encourage you to make a point of being present to the world around you. Really listen to what what nature and those around you are saying. You will be amazed at the beauty you see and all there is yet to learn.

Warm Regards,

Clay S. Nelson
Clay S. Nelson

Backyard Talent Show

It's Not Easy Being a Leader

By Beth Geier

Editor's Note: This article is a repeat from 2012, and as the date for the 7th Annual Backyard Talent Show for St. Jude approaches, these children have now raised $78,000 over the lifetime of the show. And last year, they worked with and mentored over 50 children who participated in the show. These girls are doing amazing things! They are making a difference in the world, and there is a great deal we can learn from them. So, please read on, and if you’d like learn to more about the event that is providing Claire and Katie with these learning opportunities go to The Backyard Talent Show for St. Jude, at: www.backyardtalentshow.shutterfly.com or www.facebook.com/backyardtalentshow

"It's not easy being a leader." That phrase has been swirling around in my head for a few weeks now, and it is something I've seen many people wrestle with. However, I never really imagined watching my daughters dealing with it at the ripe old age of 13! (Note: Claire and Katie are now 15!)

Summertime for many kids is all about swimming, sleep-overs, and sleeping in! And while my daughter's do their share of those things, Claire & Katie also work during the summer putting together a charity event.

Claire and Katie are co-founders, with their cousins, of the Kids Helping Kids Backyard Talent Show for St. Jude. Started in 2008, literally in the backyard, they have raised over $40,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. They recruit the show talent, write scripts, dance in the opening number, organize and recruit restaurants to provide show concessions (all for donations to St. Jude), promote their event, and they are the most unstoppable girls I've ever known.

Last year their show outgrew the backyard and now hundreds of people pack a local park for this annual event. As the show has grown, and the girls have gotten older, they recently had the realization that in order for this event to continue, they had to grow in their leadership role. So, this year they put a succession plan into place and began sharing their vision with other children capable of replacing them in the future; mentoring them, getting those children's families involved in show planning, and teaching others how to do what they do.

Of course, all of this has not gone off without hiccups. During a recent practice for the show's opening number, in which the show founders perform with 25 other children, Claire and Katie were at their breaking point. It was 100 degrees. The girls were tired, and being with all of these other children was really the last thing they wanted to do. Before they even got to the park, they were convinced of how miserable the next hour was going to be.

After a pep talk, they got up on stage, went through the motions of the opening dance, and things generally went okay. During a break, however, Katie approached me with her shoulders hunched over, grumbling, and complaining. I allowed Katie to say what she wanted to, and then said to her: "I get how hot it is and how tired you are, but remember this… every one of those kids on that stage with you are hot and tired too. You are all in the same boat, with one exception. Those kids are looking to YOU for guidance. You set the stage for how everyone else chooses to BE. If you choose to BE hot, tired, miserable, and complaining they will too!" As Katie stomped away, a friend of mine standing nearby called out to Katie saying, "It isn't easy being a leader!"

With that, Katie got back up on stage, and with a huge smile on her face and pep in her step, Katie chose to BE the leader that she is. During subsequent breaks, she continued to come to me privately to vent and have a pep talk, but she never let her emotions spill over on to the other children.

How cool is this? A 13-year old BEING what many adults think is impossible simply by clearing the thoughts and feelings that were in her way, and choosing to stand tall in a difficult circumstance. Not for herself, but to the benefit of those around her.

In one fell-swoop, Katie showed not only how difficult it can be to BE a leader, but also the power we have as leaders to make a difference simply by who we choose to be at any given moment!

No, Katie's choice to BE unstoppable didn't change the air temperature or keep the batteries in their music player from running low. What her choice did create, however, was the space for those watching her to choose to be unstoppable too!

Just think about that for a moment. This is HUGE. Now, what if all of us as leaders chose to take that on that kind of commitment too? In the words of Clay Nelson, Just a Thought! 😉

Learning to Say "No"

Balanced Life Essential: Learning to Say “No”

Life has a way of serving up an incredible about of busyness all at one time. You may even be multi-tasking your multi-tasking just to keep up with your work, your family, your social commitments, and your kids social commitments. Oh! And then there is taking time for you!

Given all that you do day-in and day-out, have you ever considered simply slowing down and actually saying “No” from time-to-time? No one has an infinite amount of time or energy to give another, and if you give away every ounce of what you do have, where can you go to get re-charged?

Yes, being a giving person, making a difference for others, is very important. The world needs leaders like you to give of themselves. However, you can’t give what you don’t have. So, rather than driving yourself into the ground, you have to learn your limits, and learn to say, “no!”

How do you determine what you are going to say “no” to and how do you do it without upsetting those you turning down?

  1. You have to make you and your time a clear priority – Put standards in place around the number of hours you will put in at the office, which social commitments you are most passionate about and want to continue, and even the number of activities you are willing to run each of your children to and from.
  2. Take a look at the activities you take on as your own that could be delegated. For instance, hire a service to clean your house, instead of doing it yourself! Have your animals bathed and groomed by a professional. Hire a college student to mow the lawn. Your spouse wants to change the color of the paint in every room of your house… hire a painter! You get the idea!
  3. Include taking care of you in your list of priorities. Keep your batteries charged with things you love to do, which can be done efficiently and quickly, and do them frequently enough to keep you from running low on juice!
  4. Have your priorities and commitments written down in a plan – If you have a plan and are clear about what you will and will not do it makes it easier to say “no” when necessary. Having a written plan also provides a tool from which others can hold you accountable for doing (and not doing) what you say you are going to do (and not do)!
  5. Give up worrying that you will make others mad by saying “no!” Now, I’m not advocating that you growl your “no,” but you do have to respect yourself enough to not be overrun with extra activities, tasks, and unreasonable demands for your time.
  6. Finally, when you find yourself having to turn down someone’s request, first ask permission to speak straight. Say, “I can’t do that. I have a portion of my life I need to take care of and this is the only time I have to do it.” Or if the “no” involves a request from someone at work that would require extra and/or unreasonable demands on your time, put your schedule down on paper. Include the items you are doing, show the person making the request the schedule, and ask which items should take priority or be replaced in order to accommodate the request.

In the end, living a balanced life, which includes work, family, community, and you, starts with making a commitment to put you first. Once you do that, saying “no” where appropriate becomes much easier to do. You’ll find yourself more energized and enjoying what you do say “yes” to much, much more!

Clay Nelson
Clay Nelson
Founder/President at Clay Nelson Life Balance
Clay Nelson's background includes science, systems analyst, and business management. After 30 years of corporate leadership, Clay knows the key elements that make a business successful, and for more than two decades, Clay has been providing business executives and their teams, from all industries, executive business and professional coaching, mediation, facilitation, planning, system analyses and seminar leadership. Read More »


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