The Power of No

Recently, Eaglei was invited to tender for some work. The contract was quite sizeable and would last several months. The financial value was significant.

I knew instinctively that I would only be able to fulfil perhaps 25% of the brief. Moreover, I knew that there were other providers with considerably more directly related experience and skills. I did think that maybe I could submit a proposal, stating how I could provide some solutions (and then finding out about the others later!) was also an option.

However, after even more thought (and discussion with my wife), I made the decision to respectfully decline the offer to tender at the initial stage (to my wife’s initial disappointment but subsequently, supportive acceptance). It just wasn’t the right ‘fit’. It wasn’t my skillset and at best, I would have been trying to keep one step ahead of the people I would be working with.

To my surprise, a few days later, I received an email I definitely wasn’t expecting. A senior person from the tender organisation wrote to thank me for declining the offer to submit a proposal. The email went on to say that in her experience, consultants often tend to present themselves as ‘all singing, all dancing’ by offering to provide anything and everything. The fact that I had declined she found, demonstrated a ‘level of honesty and integrity’ that was rare in her experience. Result!

I have long believed that integrity is everything, particularly in business. I may have rejected the opportunity of a potentially lucrative piece of work, but to be true to myself and recognise that it wasn’t for me was more important. I will hang onto this as long as I am in business because, without integrity, we are nothing.

Sometimes, just sometimes, the power of no amounts to a big deal.