As I get older, I find myself changing my stance on quite a few things. This is probably to be expected from accruing more life experience, but it’s an interesting chance to reflect.
A few years ago, I would’ve wholeheartedly recommending saying “yes” to every opportunity that presented itself. At the time, I saw this as the key to my success in meeting new people and gaining access to new experiences.
But recently, I’ve changed stance and advocate for saying “no” much more frequently. I’ve started to fully appreciate opportunity cost, and I’m beginning to love saying no!
As you get more experienced and your time and skills become more valuable, more and more opportunities will present themselves. Many of those opportunities are a waste of your time and resources.
The difficult reality, though, is that many opportunities are great. You may find great success and reap a lot of benefit from them. But at what cost?
The cost of saying “yes” usually means watering down your effectiveness and attention to the things you could be really great at.
LeBron James loved football and was a highly-recruited wide receiver in high school, but chose to say no to football at Ohio State to jump straight to the NBA. Because of that focus, he’s become arguably the best player of all time.
Bill Murray makes it nearly impossible to cast him in a movie. This way, he only stars in movies he loves and would be great in.
Invariably, some opportunities will slip by that you may regret.
Chris Sacca passed on investing early in Airbnb. Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger missed investing in Google and Amazon. My dad has often lamented about not jumping at the chance to become a pilot.
But all of those folks became great in their discipline, because they kept their “yes” to opportunities they could really excel at.
There will be other opportunities, and I think it’s far better to pass on some good opportunities in the name of focus than to frenetically try to do everything.
Charlie Munger knows he has missed opportunities, but as he told the 40,000-person crowd at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting yesterday, “The secret is we don’t miss them all.”