I’m saying NO to most things. This is why:

Today, all my time is dedicated to Wamly (a video interview software company where we help organisations to hire faster and better by using great video technology) and The Beancounter (one of South Africa’s most loved accounting firms that I founded, sold to a listed company and then bought back again).

And I’m literally saying NO to everything else.

Now, let me briefly explain why. To do so, let’s go back about 20 months, into one of the busiest years of my life – 2019.

In 2019, I was running on the steam of a popular book, a blossoming business, a TV-show and the unexpected attention that came with those. Ego, I know… But I got two things from the above:

  • The first was the belief that I could achieve anything, no matter how many of those ‘things’ there were (positivity + effort = success!).
  • The second was a desire to help as many people as I could by sharing as much of myself as I was able.

When someone (known or otherwise) needed a favour, I leapt in. Where advice was required, I had mine to share. A meeting to run through a proposal? Done. Coffee to discuss a business idea? No sweat, I’ll be there in 20.

I proved (once again) that people have their limits. And I proved that when you try to do too much, you do a lot of mediocre, ineffectual half-arsedness, and let down the people you were trying so hard to help in the process. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever disappointed so many people in my life as I did in that one year.

2019 was the most intense year of my life, and I achieved nothing. I helped no one. I burned out. I hated my life. And I swore I’d never do it again.

So, in 2020, I made a drastic change. I decided what was important (and what I wanted to do), focused my attention on only those few key things – and said no to everything else.

I stopped investing in opportunities. I said no to meetings and events. I turned down talks and media engagements. I even killed all my social profiles (except Instagram – I’m still partially active there). I stopped responding to every WhatsApp and email, and I blocked out the distractions that were muddying up my headspace. And the only two businesses that I remained involved in are my own – The Beancounter and Wamly. (If you need to get help with those, please reach out to the respective teams via their websites.)

The result was (unsurprisingly) that my priorities flourished, as did my relationships, and my businesses. I found achievement. I felt power! It was, by far, the best year of my life, and I expect ‘21 will be even better.

Fighting our conditioning to say NO is difficult, but it is also a critical modern-day skill – our time on earth is limited, and we need to spend our energy on only the things that matter most to us. This what I am continuing to do. My purpose is to spend every moment of my life working on my own goals and dreams – my priorities. I truly believe that this is the road to becoming the best version of myself, thereby making the most significant impact on society.

This is what it takes to make a difference.

So, if I sent you to this post instead of replying, know that it’s nothing personal. It has nothing to do with you, your cause, your idea or your business – and everything to do with me. (And, trust me, even if I did get involved, I will probably only disappoint you with my scattered effort: ask all those people in 2019).

While you’re here, learn from my mistakes. There’s a pretty good chance that you’re also taking on too much right now. And there’s an even better chance that that weight is holding you back from your destiny. So, draw up a list of your priorities, brutally get rid of the rest, and see what happens.

Wishing you only the best!

Marnus