“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” — Warren Buffett
According to Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do.” More directly, we are what we say yes to.
Every second of every day, you’re saying yes to something. Every time you do something, you say yes to that thing.
- Every time you hop on Facebook and begin scrolling, you’re saying yes.
- Every piece of food you put in your body, you’re saying yes.
- Right now, as you read this article, you’re saying yes.
When you say yes to anything, you say no to almost everything else. Every choice has embedded opportunity cost. Every choice is very costly. Saying yes isn’t free.
Self-Signaling: The Science of Identity
According to research by Dr. Ronit Bodner and Dr. Drazen Prelec, “Actions offer a signal to ourselves, that is, actions are self-signaling.” In other words, your actions supply a signal to you of the type of individual you are.
If you awaken early and go running, you’ll believe to yourself, I’m the type of person that awakens early and goes running. Whatever decisions you have actually made, you’ll conclude that I’m the type of individual that does X, Y, OR Z. (Luckily, as will be displayed in a moment, your past is actually extremely fluid, and can be altered by future actions.).
In the recent book, Skin in the Game, Dr. Nassim Nicholas Taleb discusses that what you do is the purest meaning of your worth system. In Start with Why, Simon Sinek stated the very same thing. Your actions demonstrate what you truly think.
Gandhi said, “Action expresses priorities.” He also said, “To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest,” which is what psychologists call cognitive dissonance— the state of internal conflict. You can’t be confident if you don’t trust yourself. Confidence is a by-product of congruent and successful behavior.
Self-confidence is the emotional state of somebody whose prior action was intentional and accurate of the person they planned on being.
Your present identity is based upon what you said yes to the other day. Who you are today is a product of your previous decisions.
Your future identity is what you say yes to today. Who you’ll be tomorrow is a product of your existing decisions.
Your previous identity is what you’ll say yes to tomorrow. Who you were in the past is a product of future decisions, because memories are extremely fluid and change based on existing and future experiences. No matter how dark or conflicted your past, it can definitely be transformed. As you alter, the meaning of your previous changes– as does the memory of it.
Your past can be redeemed by positive future decisions. Your present can make good sense when you state yes to just that which you desire be like. And your future is as intense as your faith. As Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”
However just if you act in accordance with that future vision.
But only if you act in accordance with that future vision.
Hence, Zig Ziglar was famous for saying, “You’ve got to be before you can doand do before you can have.” You decide who you want to be and act accordingly. If you don’t act accordingly, you’ll signal to yourself that you’re someone else, because you are what you do. More directly, you are what you say yes to.
You decide who you want to be. But that decision is only a real decision if you do what that decision entails. Otherwise, it wasn’t really a decision. The decision is only a decision if action aligns with it.
In the book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown states, “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”
Most things should swiftly be said no to.
To repeat the quote from billionaire Warren Buffett: “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”
Similarly, Jim Rohn said, “A lot of people don’t do well simply because they major in minor things.”
Most people say yes to minor things. Hence, most people live minor, not major lives.
Who will you be tomorrow? That depends on what you do today.
“If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.” — Jim Collins