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Not Enough Bandwidth: “No” Your Way To Success

June 19, 2015
Not Enough Bandwidth: “No” Your Way To Success

Anyone who knows me has learned to accept the fact that I thrive with a lot of irons in the fire. Like so many creative types and entrepreneurs, there are certainly times where I feel like I’m simply trying to keep my head above water, but I love the hustle of it all. I’ve always erred on the side of taking on too much, welcoming the feelings of overwhelm that are commonplace when we are juggling multiple projects and responsibilities as this seemed a lesser evil when compared to the dreaded fear of not having enough on my plate.

Just two weeks ago I found myself at a crossroads professionally and personally. In my next book I write about the importance of blending work/life success, which seems to me the appeal of creative endeavors. After a big spring of keynotes and book related events, I recently pitched a smorgasbord of book ideas to my publisher and I was stoked to learn that they are highly interested in several of them.

Having recently resigned as the head varsity basketball coach at a local high school here in rural Montana, I’ve recognized that the window to pursue my dream of taking Be Audacious to the next level is wide open right now. With my next book coming out in October, I made the decision that it was time to go all in on my writing and speaking while fostering more time with my radiant seven-year-old and new bride.

Then I received a call from a Class A school on the banks of the Yellowstone in a town where I have a lot of history and goodwill. They wanted me to interview for their boys head varsity coaching job. After going back and forth with the assistant principal for weeks stating my lack of desire to interview, he convinced me to put in an application. The day before my scheduled interview, I called the administration and asked them to pull my name from the interview process, as I simply didn’t feel the coaching gig was in my daughter or wife’s best interest. As much as I love to coach (relishing the time with the boys, getting after it at practice and the competition involved), it just didn’t feel the right time to take on such a big project. While there are certain jobs you can pull of without going all in, taking over a high school basketball program (especially one needing a facelift) wasn’t one of them.

But the next day, after being convinced by the assistant principal that I wasn’t wasting anyone’s time and that I had nothing to lose, I found myself sitting in front of a committee talking hoops. Game on.

The next day I received an enthusiastic call offering me the job. By the end of the night I accepted it. For five days I was their school’s head varsity basketball coach. Excitement buzzed, but something didn’t feel right. The words of one of my go-to advisors kept running through my mind on tape-loop, “Rev, your success is going to be defined by what you don’t do, not what you do.” His message was simple: until I learn to say no to things that don’t compliment, enhance or fuel the mission, I’m going to continue treading water.

My pros and cons list made it very clear that coaching wasn’t the right call. But I let the ego of being wanted and enthusiastically pursued, my passion for hoops, and working with kids—along with my love for competition—cloud my judgment. Instead of operating from the wise mind, I made a big decision from the emotional mind. But when I really thought about all the time I would spend away from my daughter, the energy that I wouldn’t be sharing with my wife, and the impact that coaching would have on my Be Audacious endeavor, I realized I simply didn’t have enough bandwidth to do it all.

Something had to go. Pulling out of the coaching gig was a tough decision and yet, a no-brainer. Recognizing that there is a limit to how much I can take on represented a growth and development, both personally and professionally. I’m going to miss being on the sidelines this winter, but more focused quality time with my girls, while putting my work energy towards the cause—going all in on the mission—is where my focus needs to be.

Only time will tell for sure, but right now my heart tells me that saying “no” to this gig will allow me to channel my bandwidth where it matters most. And that could well represent the difference between sustainable success and floundering mediocrity.

~Michael W. Leach

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