I just read a fascinating article dug up by Mike Cane from a 1922 copy of The American Magazine, titled “Why I Quit Being So Accommodating.”
As an accommodating person myself, I was immediately intrigued:
Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of my retirement from the business of being a Good Fellow. I use the word “business” advisedly. Until five years ago, if the city directory had told the truth, it would have listed after my name, as my real occupation, something like, “General Attender to Things,” or “Pinch Hitter,” or “Fine Old Scout.” I hope I am entitled in some measure to these designations even to-day. But I have quit being an accommodator and nothing else.
The crux of the eloquent and uncredited essay is a plea to a person’s ability to Focus. That we are each given a certain amount of time on this planet, and to allow other people to be in control of a notable portion of that time is to betray the importance of the people and work that you yourself choose to engage in.
It’s a beautifully written reminder of why saying “no” is important. And I’m willing to bet that the reason so many successful people have been called assholes is that “no” can be insulting to hear, even when it’s perfectly justified.