Say no to the good

- Francis J. Kong - The Philippine Star

Start of the year conferences is when I get so busy invited to many company’s sales kickoff rallies to encourage their people to power up and achieve peak performance. I guess after the long vacation we all need to be pumped up.

2017 by all indications will be even tighter for me compared to 2016. I am currently enjoying my family vacation here in Silicon Valley, resting and recuperating but actually doing light work at the same time.

I get this question all the time: “Francis, how do you manage your time, you do so much and have not slowed down through the years and in fact, you seem to constantly be adding more activities and achieving more every year?” I have given this question a lot of thought.

And my simple response is: “To know when to say yes and when to say no and to be willing to say no to the good.” This may seem perplexing but I will expound on this statement.

I have read at least 10 or more books on productivity and they have helped me a lot. But all the regular tips about productivity like cutting down on TV time, refrain from indulging in Facebook binges, preparing your clothes the night before and all those I have already done and much more.

I listen to audio books while I am brushing my teeth to navigating through Metro Manila horrific traffic, read my kindle books while standing in line and answering emails when told to wait and so I think it is a fair claim for me to say that there would be not much efficiencies left to siphon from the typical day I have.

Yet there are still so many things I want to do just to keep up with what famous author Thomas Friedman describes as “The Age of Acceleration.” So here is the only thing left for me to do. And that is to engage in the process of Beneficial Substitution.

I have to substitute doing many good things with doing better things. And as simple as this may sound, it could be very challenging and painful at times.
Learning to say yes and when to say no is deeply involved in this “Substitution Process.”

I had to give up many lucrative requests for keynotes and talks in 2016 and they were good things to give up. Why? Because I would not sacrifice the yearly time we spend together as a family enjoying each other’s company because this is a better thing to do.

From a financial planner’s point of view this would have been a loss. But from the moral, spiritual, emotional and godly point of perspective this decision is definitely a gain. So I had to say no to something good and replace this with something better.

Having a few days of rest and recuperation, enjoying the stories of my three grown up kids. Having a leisurely walk in the park with The Ilocana are better things gained in place of the good things given up.

Now let me see what 2017 looks like.

Perhaps you have to give up the good of having a free cup of coffee from a colleague wanting you to listen to his or her work problems but you substitute that with a little bit more concentration and focus on improving your work. That is giving up the good for something better.

Perhaps the enjoyment of keeping up with the latest trends, foodie place, fashion, etc. as Instagram would announce to us courtesy of friends and people we follow is given up and substituted with the same accumulated time spent doing exercise and building up muscles and being healthy. That is giving me the good for something that is better.

Perhaps instead of jumping on any offer to make a little money you take your time to reflect and ask, what are the trade-offs involved in the process and though the lure of immediate satisfaction appealing to the ego is good you substitute that with committing to your professional and personal ethics and integrity and do what is right though the immediate results may not be appealing; that is still giving up the good for what is better.

Year 2016 has been a great year for me professionally speaking. I did more talks compared to the previous year and many invitations for next year are coming in. Yet I will still devote a great deal of talks on parenting, will give talks for high school and university students and though they are always presented pro-bono I will still continue to do them in 2017 because this is what I have been called to do and though it will have to take the space and time for professionally paid talks I will still continue to do them because these are better things to do compared to the good.

Reason would say that decisions like these do not make sense and perhaps they don’t but there are many important things we need to do that reason could not be capable of understanding especially when it comes to the intrinsic purpose and meaning of life that is involved in such decisions. Yet the long-term results would certainly reveal that they are the right decisions after all.

So let me ask you a question: What are the good things you need to give up in 2017 so that you could only do the better things that would make a better person out of you this year? And have you marked off certain days this year for some time off with your family? I would suggest you do. It’s for the better.

(Start the next year strong and start the next year right. Rizza Mantaring, Hidilyn Diaz, Jodi Sta. Maria, Carlo Ople, Randell Tiongson and Francis Kong will share lessons on how to achieve peak performance. Attend this one-day seminar entitled Power Up for Peak Performance! on Jan. 20, 2017 at Samsung Hall SM Aura Premier. For tickets reservation contact April at +63928-559-1798 or Michael +63916-187-1506)


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