The Power of ‘No’

“What part of ‘No’ don’t you understand, the ‘N’ or the ‘o’?”   -MTN Advert


“C’mon guy, why you dey form na? you take this thing eee” B.J teased.

“Guy, leave that thing abeg, I’m okay” Yemi responded with a slight, yet firm shake of the head, his voice betraying his growing irritation with this now all-too-familiar scene.

“Ok o” B.J shrugged, “since I’m now such a bad person, I wonder why you still even bother to hang out with me”.

“You know, I’ve been thinking about that too. What am I still doing with you?” Yemi asked- within himself. He didn’t want to hurt his friend. It seemed they had known each other forever but B.J was slowly becoming a different person. Evidently, he had somehow mixed up with the wrong crowd. He was gradually becoming an addict- and no one in his immediate family could tell because he always managed to conceal his worsening addiction whenever he came home for holidays.

“You know I’ve tried, but I can’t do without this. I’ve tried again and again”, B.J moaned, his words laced with frustration- frustration at himself and who he was becoming.

*            *          *         *          *           *           *     

About when I turned 16, I ‘mysteriously’ developed a habit for reading what you’d call ‘inspirational books’. I really didn’t know what I was doing. Maybe I was trying to understand life and how it was supposed to work. I found myself drawn to the stories of men and women that had overcome tremendous difficulties to achieve outstanding success in diverse fields of human endeavour. Their stories intrigued me and made me sometimes wonder if they weren’t fictional characters.

Over time though, I’ve realized a pattern- a trend, a common theme, a striking similarity conspicuously hidden in the lives of successful men and women irrespective of race, background or vocation. It didn’t matter if they were sports stars, military leaders, top business executives, outstanding students or even revered clergymen. This trait, so simple on the surface, was a common thread that ran through the fabric of their lives. I concluded that it must somehow be responsible for their impressive achievements.


‘No’ (say that word softly to yourself). It’s such a simple word, said with the least vocal effort. Yet it’s so powerful. It’s a simple word, one of the first we learn as kids. Yet it’s power can spare us the emotional pain of a failed relationship which should never have started in the first place, it can keep us away from self-destructive patterns, poor grades, poverty and a mediocre life. Many times, a simple ‘no’ can literally spare us weeks or months of worry and stress. We just need to know how to use it more- and correctly too.

The ability to say ‘no’ to certain things and stick with that decision is one of the hallmarks of champions- those who become the best version of themselves. Have you ever said yes to a request or question and just as soon as you spoke, you wish you had said no? I have- many times.

You know what I’ve discovered? Saying no and meaning it takes a special kind of force- the force of discipline. You’ll probably agree that discipline is not such a trending topic amongst young people- we’d rather talk about something else and have fun all day. But is discipline really that boring?

Is it possible to stay disciplined without ‘cramping your style’ or ‘dulling your swag’? Is it possible to say ‘no’ to certain things you otherwise enjoy and still be happy? How does discipline play out in the real world? Is it really that hard to do?

All through the rest of this month, I and the G360 team will be dissecting this concept/idea/habit/attitude called discipline. We’ll be examining how it relates to every facet of our lives and how to transform our attitude from that of boring compulsion to exciting commitment.

We’re starting late, but we’ll make up for it. As I make room for other Grow360 writers and contributors, I have one question for you: what are you saying ‘no’ to right now?

Enjoy September!


relaxed 2


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