Did you know that the direction you face when eating at an all-you-can-eat buffet can have lasting long-term consequences?
In honor of Thanksgiving, when the vast majority of Americans will spend a day overeating, I’m reminded of a study published in a 2013 issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Research showed that buffet customers who did two simple things tended to eat less and not gain weight – they circled the buffet and picked out specific foods rather than simply grabbing a plate and piling on the offerings and they sat facing away from the buffet.
The lead researcher said that the decisions made by those with healthy weights “were unconscious to the person making them. They essentially became habits over time.”
At Thinker, we’re not advocating insulting your Thanksgiving cook today by just picking at a couple of small offerings. We’re advocating developing a larger skill, the ability to say no.
We’re called Thinker because we believe that thinking through strategy – why we’re doing what we’re doing – can yield clearer communication, more efficient and optimized systems, lower overall spending, and better results than just chasing everything that comes our way.
Tony Blair said, “The Art of Leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.” And, it’s true. When we say yes to too many things we can become unfocused and lose sight of the things that really matter. We can develop organizational bloat. We can become unfocused, slow.
Saying no requires a filtering process to determine why we would say yes. How does saying yes fit in with the overall strategy or our purpose?
Anyone who has experienced decision by committee – trying to say yes everyone’s opinions so as to please them – has seen the sometimes disastrous effects of saying “yes” instead of “no”.
Knowing what to focus on and then focusing on it is really the art of saying no. And, by focusing, we concentrate our value instead of diluting it. I have a wise friend who told me “you are trying to boil the ocean.” I was trying to do too many things, and my effort was being diluted to the point of insignificance. Saying no would have concentrated the effort and led to more significant impact.
You don’t have to think of that today when deciding whether to use a small plate versus a large plate for your Thanksgiving meal. You should think of that tomorrow though when we all get back to developing habits that will yield the greatest results over time.