There’s an old saying in the world of work: “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.” Many of us in today’s working world, especially the entrepreneurs and self-employed types, can really relate to being busy. Sometimes, this “busy-ness” can lead to a feeling of being scattered, over-committed, and not in control of one’s own life. (Does this sound like anyone you know?)

This ties in neatly with an article I read today by Derek Sivers. For those who don’t know Derek, he’s a musician, entrepreneur, philosopher, and writer who has borne more than a passing resemblance to the aforementioned busy person. As a working musician himself, Derek saw a need that wasn’t being filled for thousands of other working musicians. He founded, a company that sells CDs and digital downloads from independent musicians to online customers from around the world. He then founded a musician-friendly web hosting and e-mail contact service, and his dedication to these projects has helped so many musicians market themselves to a much larger audience. (In the interest of fair disclosure, I am one of those musicians who is a client of CDBaby and HostBaby.)

A while back, Derek sold CDBaby to another longtime musician-friendly company and went out in search of his next projects. Along the way, he’s been writing articles that are posted online in his blog at His most recent writing is rather thought provoking, and I’ll share the concept with you here:

“When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than, ‘Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!’ – then my answer is no.”

Derek goes on to clarify: “We’re all busy. We’ve all taken on too much. Saying yes to less is the way out.” He then gives some examples of how this has worked recently in his professional life, from hiring a worker to whether or not to attend certain conferences.

Derek also mentions a book, Personal Development for Smart People, which asks the reader to think about the different areas of his or her life (career, relationships, spiritual, health, etc.) and rate satisfaction in each area from 1 to 10. Then, it said to go through every area that was rated a 5, 6, 7, or 8 – and replace it with a 1! As Derek put it, “That we should never settle for ‘it’s not so bad’ and instead face up to what it is that we really want.”

Several (well, 76 at press time) readers of Derek’s article posted their responses, and some were quite interesting and thought provoking as well. One suggested the book From Good to Great, which postulates, “The enemy of GREAT is GOOD. Just when I settle for GOOD, I forget about being GREAT and pushing forwards.” Another respondent posted the caveat, “Don’t major in minor things.”

Not all, however, was positive. Several posters saw the idea as selfish and narcissistic. As one reader summed it up, “Well, I suppose if you’ve got that ‘it’s all about me’ attitude, then Hell, Yeah! Say no all the time. Then, when nobody’s calling anymore, you’ll have all the time in the world for just you.” Another respondent reminded everyone that regardless of what we may want, the concepts of duty and service will still play a major role in most of our lives. And still another lamented, “Most of my ‘hell yeahs’ have fallen through recently. I threw everything into it and nearly lost my ass.”

For those who may be wondering just what this topic is doing in a column called “Keys Disease,” the Keys of today aren’t nearly as laid back as they were 25 years ago. Modern life has caught up with a lot of us, and we work our butts off to try to build our businesses or simply stay afloat. I know that I’ve dedicated way too much time in the past to less-than-successful projects. And I certainly believe in the concepts of duty and service. But a little more “Hell Yeah!” in our lives might lead to a lot more personal satisfaction.
Can I get a “Hell Yeah?”

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