June 29th, 2013| Topic: RaMbLeS | 4


Apparently Warren Buffet has a little black date book that he carries around. If you flip through it, you’ll find that the pages are practically empty.

“You’ve gotta keep control of your time,” Buffett says, “and you can’t unless you say no. You can’t let people set your agenda in life.”

Saying “No!”

When writer Eugene Peterson was a pastor, he made a discipline of writing “FD” into his appointment calendar three days a week. If someone wanted to see him during those times, he could explain that he already had a meeting then. They didn’t need to know that it was with Fyodor Dostoyevsky, reading.

Saying “No!”

Blogger Kevin Ashton writes about a psychology professor who wrote to a bunch of creative people asking for interviews.

Peter Drucker, management guru, replied: “One of the secrets of productivity (in which I believe, whereas I do not believe in creativity) is to have a very big waste paper basket to take care of all invitations such as yours … [and] to spend all one’s time on the work the Good Lord has fitted one to do, and to do well.”

Novelist Saul Bellow’s secretary wrote: “Mr Bellow informed me that he remains creative … at least in part because he does not allow himself to be a part of other people’s ‘studies.’”

Composer György Ligeti’s secretary answered: “He is creative and … the very reason you wish to study his creative process is also the reason why he (unfortunately) does not have time to help you in this study.”

Of the 275 contacted by the interviewer, a third said “No!” Another third did not even bother to reply—they didn’t even have the time to say “No!”

Ashton writes:

Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems …, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting …. No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes.”

Saying “No!”

Indeed. Saying “No!” is not always rude. Nor is it to be restricted of invitations to inject, inhale, or ingest drugs. Yes, you might be misunderstood and misconstrued as anti-social, impersonal, and a boor!

Here’s what Charles Dickens said, refusing an invitation from a friend:

‘It is only half an hour’ — ‘It is only an afternoon’ — ‘It is only an evening,’ people say to me over and over again; but they don’t know that it is impossible to command one’s self sometimes to any stipulated and set disposal of five minutes — or that the mere consciousness of an engagement will sometime worry a whole day … I am grieved if you suspect me of not wanting to see you, but I can’t help it.”

Therefore be careful how you walk,
not as unwise men but as wise,
making the most of your time ….
So then do not be foolish,
but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Ephesians 5:15–17

Life is short!

As for the days of our life,
they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years, ….
For soon it is gone and we fly away.
So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You
a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:10, 12

Let’s be good stewards of our time. Don’t always say “Yes!”





  1. Geoff July 15, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Abe, I needed this. Very timely. And great message yesterday at Northwest.

  2. Eric June 30, 2013 at 8:09 am

    Ah, but it was well worth the time to read the post. Thanks Abe!


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