Every time you say yes to something that is unimportant, you say no to something that is important. “Yes men” never create anything great. There’s great value in getting good at saying no.
Say no to the friend who wants to meet over coffee to gossip. Say no to the co-worker who wants to spread his negativity and cynicism. Say no to the relative who laughs at your dreams and makes you doubt yourself. Say no the social obligations that drain time from your life’s work.
You can’t be all things to all people. Know your priorities. Know your goals. Know what needs to get done over the coming weeks, months and years for you to feel that you played your best game as a human being. And then say no to everything else. Sure, some people around you will not be happy. But leadership isn’t a popularity contest. It’s about doing what you know to be right.