09/26/2013 12:33 pm ET Updated Nov 26, 2013

Business Reinvention and the Art of Saying No

If you're in the process of reinventing your career, your corporation, your perspective on health or wealth, or your corner of the planet, you're making a series of incremental difficult decisions, and letting go of what held you back yesterday. If you're working on a project or helping to create a company, every day you say yes, and every day you say no: to people, to tasks, to distractions.

Reinvention is about focusing on today and tomorrow, but not so much about clinging to decisions that held you back last week or last year.

Whether reinvention is based on a thoughtful plan or has been forced upon you, it's still about making choices, smartly, deeply, and in a way that will be sustainable for the rest of your life.

In the era of worldwide tech collaboration, who is usually more primary than what. Yes is a primary ingredient for intelligent collaborations. No is essential for collaborations that have gotten off track.

Careers used to be stable enough to be counted on for a lifetime. Along with the huge technological shifts in working lives everywhere, have come direct personal experiences connected to people who have been thrown into an unstable economic reality. In the Age of Reinvention people are facing huge disruptions and are bracing themselves for many more to come.

No is the new yes. Yes is often intertwined with no, and no might just be suggesting a more thoughtful approach, if not a definite no. There are times when a no will propel you forward, and a yes will hold you back. Every random distraction you say no to gives you more energy to say yes to the projects that matter most deeply to you.

Creating a business in a garage after being laid off from a corporate gig is as much about what one is saying no to as what they are shouting yes to. The no doesn't have to be loudly spoken, but it'll be there in the background, urging the person with the life-altering invention, product, idea, to keep pursuing it, no matter what.

The world of business has been about smart partnerships, and strategic decisions. If you're working with someone who isn't a good communicator and you love clear communication, it's very likely a huge no is in your immediate future. If you're in a personal relationship where one partner wants to change the world and the other one has a difficult time changing their clothes, the word no is right around the corner. When your city or state is led by an egomaniac who has no time for consensus building, hopefully enough people will collect signatures and no the person right out of office.

If you're always a yes person, it's time to add no to your vocabulary. Simply accepting everything never works all the time, and no is useful as an intelligent alternative and a lens to view opportunities with a clear eye. Just by remembering that yes isn't the answer to every situation helps clarify your day-to-day personal and business interactions. Keep in mind that no waits in the wings, ready for its chance to stand up for thoughtful dialogue, clear decision-making, and standing solidly with your decision to make an impact in the world.