Two days ago, Matt Prater, the Denver Bronco’s clutch kicker was released. Matt Prater holds the record for the longest field goal in NFL history and was nearly perfect last year, only missing one field goal. Last year, in an intra-divisional rivalry game, Matt Prater secured a game winning field goal after San Diego’s Nick Novak missed a 53 yard field goal. Matt Prater was 21 of 27 attempts outside of 50 yards over his entire career. Matt Prater was set to make $2.1M this year the fourth most in the NFL (over Adam Vinatiere, who one Super Bowl 2003 for New England). Matt is out of a job, because he couldn’t say No!
Almost all personal and business productivity discussions include a the importance of learning to say “no”. It should be easy. I’ve been desperately trying to tell other people NO since I was born. But this is no easy task, why?
My coach and longtime friend reminded me that some of my best character traits are related to saying yes. I want to make a difference in the world. I see opportunities that may develop into possibilities. I want to cultivate new and budding relationships and deepen old ones. I care and want to provide empathy to others. To me, saying YES means getting things done!
However, on the darker side, my shadow is in play. I say YES because I’m fearful that I might miss lucking into a big reward, or miss a chance to be recognized as worthy by others. I am fearful that saying NO might make other think less of me. Frankly, I’m ashamed if I’m not seen as good enough.
Therefore, I say “yes” to investment opportunities, coffee meetings, errands, following internet rabbit holes, and worse of all, time-share promises; most of which suck my productivity, time or energy out of me.
So, how can I say NO, when pushing against all of these challenges.
Of course, like everything, it means living in truth, truth to my integrity, purpose, or “God’s will for my life.” Every and any organization (individuals included) need to have a visceral understanding of their aligned purpose. Understanding operating values, intentions (both strategic and tactical) mission and vision provide structures for what we should do AND what we shouldn’t do.
For example, my mission is to create a world of transformation through supporting the transformation of myself and others. In 2014, that meant being holistically fit, leading my company, and loving my family. Recently, a great equity investment opportunity was presented to my company. Our company has a carefully crafted allocation strategy to manage risk and return. This investment was not aligned with our current strategy; and after much consternation, I said NO. I felt bad. I might have missed the next “Facebook.” But, when peaking into my gut, it felt aligned. Consciously weighing decisions against our integrity (purpose) creates a simple framework to say yes or no.
So back to Matt Prater. My guess is Matt Prater’s purpose was to be the most consistent kicker in the NFL, a pro-bowler and maybe even a hall-of-famer. After a previous substance abuse issue with the NFL, Matt made an agreement (whether fair or not), that he would not drink alcohol or be suspended. As the media has portrayed, Matt said YES to a beer during the off-season, and then tested positive for blood alcohol, was suspended for four weeks, and ultimately lost his job with one of the best football franchises in the NFL.
Without a framework to weigh the consequences of our choices, it probably was easy for Matt to grab a beer from the refrigerator and say, sure, no big deal. But if he could have weighed it against his integrity, maybe he could have said NO (addiction challenges aside).
I’m sad for Matt Prater, I’m sad for the Broncos, and I’m sad for the million times I’ve regretted saying YES to something that stole my time, energy, and dreams. Build the framework and live from integrity, and saying NO becomes easier.