The Power Of ‘No’: How Two Letters Can Either Be Used For Motivation Or Debilitation

The word "no" can be used as motivation or debilitation, and we explain why.
Screengrab via Instagram/shutupnhustle

Plenty of words can be used for motivation, but the one that I’ve found to be the most successful one is the word “no”. Sure, some people might be thinking I’m crazy for saying that, but hearing the word “no” has always inspired me to dig deeper and do more because it makes me want to prove others wrong. Yep, I’ve sort of got a little bit of a chip on my shoulder, can’t you tell?

Here’s the thing about the word “no”: it doesn’t have to be heard by you as a way to serve as motivation, but, instead, it can be used to do the same thing. That’s because some of the world’s most successful people use the two-letter word in order to stay focused, with Warren Buffett once saying that “the difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” That’s kind of an important lesson coming from a billionaire, don’t you think? Having the ability to say “no” is something a lot of people struggle with, but it’s an important skill to master for your own sanity.

Whether you’re hearing the word “no” from someone else, or you’re using it on another person, here are a few ways in which it can (and should) empower you and serve as a form of motivation — which is something we should all hope for.

Motivation Often Comes From The Hopeful Feeling Of Reward

There’s no better feeling than putting your mind to something and working your ass off in order to accomplish the goal. Whether that’s something as simple as motivating yourself to run a few miles after work, or running a few miles after work to train for a marathon that someone doubts you’ll ever complete, that rush of happiness once you’ve completed a task of yours is there.

Think about it, in the latter example, you’re motivating yourself more to run for the marathon because someone is essentially telling you that, no, you won’t be able to cross the finish line. Who are they to judge, right? Well, if you’re motivated and passionate, you’ll do whatever you can to prove them wrong — even if that means telling other people “no” to sacrifice time to pound the pavement.

The Word “No” Is One Of The Most Powerful

Once you hear the word “no” once, you have a decision to make — you either let your brain form doubt, or you use it as motivation to pick it up a notch. Whether you’re emailing people about something and getting told “no”, or you’re being turned down at a bar by an attractive person, to be blunt, you’re being rejected. Successful people don’t let this get them down, but, instead, they let it uplift them in order to get what they ultimately want and prove those people wrong.

Motivation Vs. Debilitation

Related to that last part, hearing the word “no” doesn’t have to be debilitating. Some people will allow themselves to get so down after being told no that they almost trick themselves into thinking it’s a bad word. Well, as mentioned earlier, when I hear the word “no”, I use it to my advantage, either getting creative by trying to sell a person in a different way, or simply making myself find some motivation in order to prove them wrong.

For example, the other day I emailed a big-time entrepreneur about being featured on Shut Up & Hustle; he told me no. It sucked, because I chased him down for a month just trying to get a reply from him. When he turned me down, I was a little disheartened, but rather than have it get me down, I moved on to another businessperson who I was just as excited about and, boom, she’s interested in not only being featured, but offering up some of her clients to tell their success stories, too. What would have happened if I just quit after the first person told me “no”? I wouldn’t have gotten an even better opportunity for the brand, that’s what.

Look, so many people are afraid of taking risks to follow their dreams because of the possibility of failure. It’s the fear of being told “no” too many times and, ultimately, losing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Hearing the word “no” should serve as motivation, not debilitation. It should inspire you to adapt, learn from your failures and work even harder to get whatever the hell it is you want.

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