When was the last time you said ‘yes’ to something, when you really wanted to say no? Maybe you didn’t have time to take it on, perhaps the project better fitted with someone else’s portfolio, maybe it was something you just don’t like doing…. And yet you heard yourself say ‘yes’.

From the moment we say yes, resentment kicks in as we wonder why it’s always us, and what we need to give up to fulfill this new commitment. Over time, relationships can be tarnished as we bring negative energy into the conversations.

Giving this ‘yes’ too often leads to overwhelm, stress, over-commitment and under-delivery, and causes us to be unavailable to our peers and direct reports. When people can’t access us for advice, direction or decision, work slows down, further exaggerating our frustration and resentment. Laments like ‘No one cares as much as I do’ and ‘They don’t understand how much I am contributing’ follow close behind.

Brené Brown’s mantra ‘Choose discomfort over resentment’ is a great reminder that while setting boundaries and saying ‘no’ can be uncomfortable, the resentment of a ‘yes’ can be much deeper and longer lasting. Brené* says ‘My mantra reminds me that I’m making a choice that’s critical for my well being- even if it’s not easy’.

Saying ‘yes’ to everything does not make you a good team player, will not ensure that everyone likes you, and is not showing Fearless Leadership! There’s no place for resentment in a leadership team.

It is time to consider:

  • What is driving your yeses? How can that need to be met in other ways?
  • Who else is impacted when you are overcommitted?
  • Where could your energy be best invested?
  • What boundaries do you need to put in place? Where can you practice?
  • What could you gain from choosing discomfort over resentment?

Go Fearlessly

*Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston. She researches courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy, is the author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers.

PS For a gorgeously casual (and full of cusses) exploration of choosing discomfort over resentment, listen to Brene Brown’s fabulous podcast ‘Unlocking Us’ – the episode ‘Summer Sisters Series Follow Up on Perfectionism, Numbing, Boundaries’.


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