Leadership, Success, and Accessibility

The more successful you become as a leader, the more other people will demand of your time. As a result, if you are going to maintain margin for your most important priorities, you will have to make some difficult decisions about your accessibility.

Limited Access - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/ugurhan, Image #13855601

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/ugurhan

Recently, I was listening to Andy Stanley talk about this very topic. He said,

The harsh reality of leadership is that the more successful we are, the less accessible we become. As things grow and as more people become involved, a leader can’t be equally accessible to all people. So then we are faced with the dilemma of who gets my time and who doesn’t, when do they get it, and and how much of it do they get.

Your time is a zero sum game. When you say yes to one thing, you are simultaneously saying no to something else. The more successful you get, the more difficult this becomes. You find yourself saying no to good things—worthy things—in order to say yes to your most important priorities.

For example, last week I spoke at a writer’s conference. After my speech, at least a dozen people handed me their book proposal or manuscript and asked if I would read it and tell them what I think. I truly love helping authors. There was a time when I would have felt guilty about saying no.

After all, from the perspective of the one asking, it is not a big request. But, what they usually don’t realize is that I get dozens of these requests each week. To agree to their request would require a major investment of my time. Add all the requests together, and I am soon eating into the time allotted for my own projects, friends, family, and health.

As a result, I said to each one, “I am sorry, but I am afraid that won’t be possible. In order to be faithful to my other commitments, I have to say no to these kinds of requests. I hope you understand.”

What about you? If you are a leader with more demands than time, you are probably faced with similar situations on a daily basis. Here are seven ways you can limit your accessibility, so you can stay focused on what matters most:

  1. Acknowledge your resources are finite. This is a fact. You have 168 hours per week. No more, no less. Every time you commit to something, you are depleting your available time. Your other resources are also limited, including your attention, money, and energy.

    If you ignore this, it will eventually catch up with you. You will pay a high price when that happens—perhaps an emotional breakdown, a divorce, wayward kids, a business failure, or a health crisis.

  2. Determine who needs access and who doesn’t. Not everyone needs full access to you. They may think they do, but they don’t. Therefore, you must prioritize your contacts and relationships.

    For me, my family, the people I work with daily, and my close personal friends constitute my “inner circle.” They get my time first. Remember: once you let people in, it is hard to ask them to leave without creating misunderstanding or hurt feelings. Be intentional.

  3. Take practical steps to limit your accessibility. Here are a few things I do:
    • I use two e-mail addresses: a private one and a public one. I monitor the first; my assistant monitors the second. Only about 30 people have access to my private address. If something hits my public account and requires my personal response, my assistant redirects it to my private account.
    • I follow a limited number of people on Twitter—about 170. These are the only ones who can direct message me. It keeps me from getting flooded with spam, which is what my life was like before I unfollowed 108,698 people. I still interact with people in the public space via replies. I think it is even more effective, because others can observe and jump in.
    • I have a private Facebook profile and a public fan page. The first one is for my inner circle and a few others. The fan page is for everyone else. My accessibility on Facebook is almost identical to my access on Twitter.
    • I also have LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest accounts, but I treat them as public accounts. I don’t even try to respond to private messages.
    • I have two phone numbers. You guessed it—a private one and a public one. I use Google Voice for my public number. It goes directly to voice mail, transcribes the message, then e-mails it to my assistant. If it is something requiring my personal attention (rarely), she forwards the notification to me.
  4. Make a list of common requests. Go through your e-mail for the last few months and compile a list of recurring requests or comments. You’ll find that they fall into specific categories. Here’s a short sample of a few of my categories and requests:

    Blog:

    • Thanks for your blog.
    • I noticed a typo on you blog post today.
    • How can I advertise on your blog?
    • Would you write a post about my product [or service]?
    • What WordPress plugin are you using to [specific feature]?
    • Can you recommend a web developer?
    • Do you accept guest posts on your blog?

    Boards/Investing:

    • Would you consider serving on our board?
    • Would you consider investing in my company?

    Books:

    • Would you read my proposal [or manuscript] and give me some feedback?
    • Would you publish my manuscript [or book]?
    • Can I send you a copy of my new book?

    Consulting/Coaching/Mentoring:

    • Would you take a look at my blog and tell me what you think?
    • Would you consider mentoring me?
    • Would you consider coaching me?
    • Can you consult with my company?
    • Can you answer a question?

    Meetings:

    • Can I meet with you over coffee [or a meal]?
    • Can I get together with you to ‘pick your brain’?
    • Can I schedule a call with you to discuss my service [or product]?

    This is just a sample. Currently, I have identified about 50 common requests.

  5. Decide how you will respond to these requests. This is a huge time-saver. Why keep re-inventing the wheel? Craft a thoughtful response that really adds value and use it to point people in the right direction. Save your response as an e-mail signature or use something like Typinator.

    It also takes some of the pain out of saying no. It enables you to decline with grace, without going through the angst with each new request. (This is especially important for people-pleasers like me, who hate saying no.)

    I have an e-mail signature for every one of these common requests. My assistant manages and uses them on my behalf. It is a great tool for training people who work for you.

  6. Delegate to people you trust. You don’t have to do it all. If you are like me, you may say yes, but then regret it. However, if you can have someone on your team act as a buffer, it helps. This gives you the space you need to be more thoughtful and priority-driven in your decisions.

    In addition, people on your team are often better equipped to help the person making the request. Or at the very least, they can point them to the resources they need without your involvement. Either way, the person making the request is well-served.

    This is also a great opportunity to train your people by allowing them to shoulder the load. Jethro once told his son-in-law, Moses:

    The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself” (Exodus 18:17–18)

  7. Accept the fact that you will be misunderstood. People often feel entitled. Some will try to shame you. Others will talk about you behind your back. Don’t worry about it. There is nothing you can do to stop them.

    There are just some things that other people won’t understand until they have walked in your shoes. Trying to convince them otherwise only further depletes your limited resources and gets you off track. My advice is to ignore them.

If this is a struggle for you, that’s a good sign. It means you have a good heart. But it’s going to take more than that to succeed over the long haul. You will also need wisdom and courage to limit your accessibility in order to stay focused on your priorities and fulfill your calling.

Questions: Are you struggling with success and accessibility? How are you managing it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to a self-hosted WordPress blog? It’s easier than you think! Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it, step-by-step. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Watch my free screencast

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://chrisvonada.info/ chris vonada

    lol… well, I’m not struggling at your level Michael… :-)

    This is an excellent and very detailed approach/list! 

    When I think about accessibility my mind also wanders to the thought of how to make myself MORE accessible… and, your thoughts are excellent in outlining this in many ways too… through public speaking engagements, writing this excellent blog, hiring support personnel to help you reach farther, etc… without these efforts the people who have the most influence, like you and Andy Stanley, for example, wouldn’t have nearly the reach they are capable of without.

    I know I’m thankful for that!

    • shawnweston

      I know what you mean, Chris.  I really enjoy the interaction and teaching opportunities that come with being accessible, so I maintain somewhat of an open-door policy as well.  I can see needing this framework somewhere in the near future, though.

      I do already use the public line/private line method for phone and voicemail, but I’m about 6 months out from HAVING to have the proverbial “assistant.”

      Great tips, Michael.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Great point—being intentional about accessibility actual makes you more accessible.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

       Chris,

      I know I want to be accessible but in the right areas. I think this process helps guide me in opening my schedule to the right people in the right places. Even with a limited reach, I find the need to maintain a focus on my priorities. Saturday I listed those priorities on paper (well, the virtual paper in my computer), not because I didn’t know them, but because I needed to reenforce how I arrange my schedule and do my work.

      You’ve provided a good conversational thread for the rest of us.

      Thanks,
      Tom

      • http://chrisvonada.info/ chris vonada

        Yea, I need to keep active with the same type of reinforcement Tom, Thank you!

  • http://www.matthewbennett.es/ Matthew Bennett

    Lots of practical advice here, a good framework for the future perhaps.

  • http://actuallykatie.com/ Katie McAleece

    This brought to mind Cloud & Townsend’s book ‘Boundaries’- the basic message being, “Learn when to tell people no.” Which is something I think a lot of us struggle with!

    But you’ve presented some very practical ways to set boundaries, and I think the way you personally deal with people seems very polite and kind in nature. There is much to be said about someone who, in spite of their growing popularity, can still treat people with respect while turning them down. So thank you for showing us how it’s done!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Katie. I really loved the Boundaries ago. I probably should have recommended it in the post itself!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       Great book.

    • JaysonFeltner

      I’ll have to add this to my reading list.  Thanks Katie for sharing.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

       Good thoughts, Katie, and thanks for offering another resource for the rest of us.

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      “Boundaries” saved my life in more ways than one. Ever-grateful for that book!

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    That Andy Stanley quote struck home with me when he talked about it at Catalyst East last year. It’s shocking as I was taught we had to be more open as you became more successful. Real eye-opener.

     

  • http://www.2knowmyself.com/ Farouk

    this is a very interesting post
    i made a mistake earlier and this post would have saved me
    thanks

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Out of curiosity, what was the mistake? ;)

  • http://dalemelchin.wordpress.com/ Dale Melchin

    This is where I would say.  “I wish I had your problem!”  :-D  Seriously though, this is a great post and gives me a information for when I do reach that higher level of success.  I can prepare in advance for it.   Thanks again, Mike!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      This falls into the category of, I-wish-I-had-known-this-years-ago!

    • http://www.brandongilliland.com/ Brandon Gilliland

       Haha! Same here…

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    This has been an ongoing topic for you and a helpful “perhaps some day” for me. In fact, that day may be sooner than I know. This week is one where I have numerous requests along the same line–“You write so would you look over this devotional for me?” That doesn’t happen often but it has happened multiple times this week.

    I appreciate the repetition because at some point your posts move from “That’s nice to know” to “Wow! Is this ever timely.”

    As I plan to attend the ACFW conference in September, I will bring no manuscript for you to read but I will make a request. May I have the privilege of looking you in the eye and saying, “Thank you?” I appreciate the many gifts you’ve given over the years to those of us who’ve read and watched you grow.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Tom. I hope we can meet at ACFW. Hopefully, it is small enough that I can shake a lot of hands. I love doing this before and after I speak.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

         Depends on your definition of small. The two I’ve attended have numbered in the hundreds.

  • http://maryloucaskey.com/ Marylou Caskey

    Great post, would you share what you say on your voicemail that is public? Anyone else want to share that also?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I say about the same thing as I do on my private one: “Hi, you’ve reached the voice mail of Michael Hyatt. Please leave a message and we’ll get back with you.” Thanks.

  • http://www.timemanagementninja.com/ Craig Jarrow

    Michael,

    Timely post… this topic has been on my mind lately. (My post today is about saying No.)

    Thanks for some practical tips. Will be using several of these. :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Craig. This is so related to time management, isn’t it?

      • http://www.producewithpassion.com/ Dan McCoy

        Wasn’t it you that called it Priority management – not time management?  ;-) 

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

       Simple, straightforward information and questions about saying no. For anyone else who’d like to check out Craig’s post, you’ll find it at http://timemanagementninja.com/2012/06/why-you-need-to-make-a-no-list/ .

      • http://www.timemanagementninja.com/ Craig Jarrow

        Thanks, Tom!

        Much appreciated.

  • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

    I heard the Andy Stanley talk as well. One area of my life that it really helped me make decisions was with financial requests. I am bombarded with people asking to commit financially to their cause or trip. I just can’t do it for everyone. So we picked a few charities and organizations that are important to us and give there, saying no to the rest.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Gail and I are bombarded too. One of the things we have done is consolidate our giving to two charities beyond church. We review these each year and decide whether to continue or to change it up. Consequently, when someone asks us to give, we reply, “Gail and I are focusing our resources on two charities for the next year. If you would like us to consider something for next year, then please e-mail or mail us something.”
      We then file these away to review later. It gives us some space and allows us to review in a broader context. We also have a monthly allocation that we use for small requests like a friend’s child who is raising money for a missions trip.

      • Young Leader

        Creating “space” to make a decision is another really important thing you do that I am trying to learn.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

       I hadn’t even considered that aspect. Thanks, Jeremy, for reminding me that I can have guidelines for giving as well as for my time. Both are limited resources. Perhaps someone can pick up on the theme of when to say no to a good cause.

  • David Sollars

    I struggle with reaching the next level of success. My initial efforts have been fruitful enough for me to be asked to do many worthwhile efforts over many cups of free coffee, which end up costing me approximately $2,500. Your blog post is especially helpful at reinforcing how to get past the heart tugging “they could really use your help, too” and get down to clearing my schedule, avoid distractions and focus more on the mission that is the driver of my life. Very well stated with great guidelines. Much appreciated.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, David. I’m glad it was helpful. It is especially hard when you want to be helpful.

  • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

    Thanks Michael for the valuable advice. Very helpful. Yes, I do face this. But if I really love the people I serve, I must take appropriate steps that will help me serve them well. 

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      PREACH. Great point. Appreciate your perspective, Joe.

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    Michael, I can appreciate this struggle, but I noticed at SCORRE that you made each person feel important. That is the declining with grace. I appreciate that about you.

    One area where I have to consistently say no is at church. Yes, church! I am very active at church and serve in many areas. Because people see I have a willing heart, they tend to ask me to serve in more and more areas. 

    To avoid burnout, I serve where I am gifted in serving (leadership and teaching, specifically women or adults), and writing (I write dramas for our congregation, as well as devotions and articles).  I consistently say no to serving with children because it is not my gifting. Then there are areas where my answer depends on my current schedule (like making meals for people).

    My goal is to always remember, “If you succeed at ministry, but fail your family – YOU FAIL.” My family is my #1 ministry.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Your last sentence is gold, Kelly. Thanks also for your comments about SCORRE. That’s a case where I got really clear on my boundaries before I arrived. I knew exactly what I could afford to do and what I couldn’t. Thanks again.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      This is a great approach, Kelly. I, too, have had to set some pretty clear boundaries at church. If you’re willing and have a get-it-done approach, you’ll find yourself signed up for all kinds of things! :) I’m much more intentional about where I serve now. Not only does it protect me and my family, but it allows other people the opportunity to serve in their gifts.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

       Kelly, your comments about who you work with and who you don’t remind me of last night’s VBS program. Two of us high school JV coaches worked with kindergarten to 1st grade kids. Shaun, who never uses a whistle, felt compelled to blow his whistle (before he blew something else). I think the goal shifted from teaching baseball fundamentals to “Please don’t throw the dirt.” It was a fun time despite the obvious gap between what a coach wants to teach and what a kid wants to learn. I’m grinning even as I write this.

      • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

        Type A people don’t work well with kids. Yes, I mean me. I am very intentional with my parenting and expectations of my kids. Interestingly, the Children’s Ministry director finally stopped asking me to do childcare when I told her I would sign up as soon as they started allowing spanking. :-)

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

           You win the laugh-out-loud award for the day.

          • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

            Of course I am joking…kind of. ;-)

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Kelly. Church is the WORST are recognizing people’s boundaries. Conversely, people feel guilty about setting limits with their church, i.e. “if I was really spiritual, I would volunteer all the time.”

      Good point.

  • http://www.ericamcneal.com/ Erica McNeal

    “…once you let people in, it is hard to ask them to leave without creating misunderstanding or hurt feelings.” – What a great quote that transcends so many aspects of life. I also especially like your suggestions of#4 and #5. What a great idea. I am totally a people pleaser, and really hate saying no as well!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      I know Erica! It can be hard to say no to a request asking for your help. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      That IS a great quote.

  • Grant Gillard

    Wow! This post hit me hard, but good.  I am (among other things) a beekeeper with around 200 hives. It’s still part-time, kind of a hobby on steroids.

    With my success came growth and a greater commitment of time and energy to my “hobby.” With my success came hundreds of other people interested in keeping bees themselves, and with the advent of this die-off we call Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the phone rings every day from people wanting me to mentor them or sell them used bee equipment (translation: cheap).

    In my early days it was fun to help aspiring beekeepers get started.  Now, it’s another interruption and another distraction.

    Yeah, it’s hard to say no and not come across as the bad guy. And I have those days I call “cake days.” Those are the days when everyone wants a “piece” of me, my time and my energy.  Some days the pan is empty and the baker don’t have no more flour!  But people still demand cake.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Oh, wow. Can I just say your hobby is fascinating?! And I love “cake days.” :) You make several great points, and made me think of my husband’s business. He’s a contractor who does custom remodels and basement finishing. Because of his unique skills, he’s always being asked by friends and acquaintances to “help” with their project (READ: “do it for free or almost free”). We’ve had to learn when to say “yes,” when to say “no,” and that it’s okay to charge for our services.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Interesting hobby Grant! Gotta give you credit for being around so many bees. I’d be freaked out.

      You say you receive quite a few requests for information about beekeeping. And that it can be taxing on your time and energy. If you have the time, could this be a new source of income? Creating a guide on what you know and sharing it with the world? Just a thought I had… 

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        I thought the same thing.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    This is a common problem, not only for leaders, but anyone with a specific talent. Years ago, when I was a mechanic, I would get requests all the time to look at someones car, diagnose the problem, and fix it for little or no cost. The same thing happens today, now that people know that I work with computers and technology. I made a decision long ago that I wouldn’t take on side work, unless it was immediate family. If someone wanted me to work on their car, I would be glad to run it through the business just like anyone else.  This kept my business my business and my personal life free of time traps.

    At first it was hard to say no, but I soon found that I could refer these jobs to co-workers who enjoyed doing side work. What I have noticed is my friends who decide to do side work have to set boundaries or they find themselves working nights and weekends at other peoples request.

    What I have found useful, is to trade services with others with different talents. I’ve traded web work for coaching, car repair for home repair and computer tune ups for clerical work. This type of situation usually works out well if you set parameters and limits up front and discuss how actual expenses will be handled.

    So Michael, if you ever need car or computer advice, I’ll be glad to trade for a book review or publishing help… :-)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I wonder if doctors and dentists struggle with this … for example, someone coming up to them at church and saying, “Hey, doc, I have this pain in my foot. Could you take a quick look?”
      It’s really hard for me when one of my extended family members or friends takes advantage of their relationship with me, “I hope you don’t mind, but I told my sister that you would take a quick look at their new book proposal.”

      • http://www.matthewbennett.es/ Matthew Bennett

        I know lots of doctors (friends and students) and it happens to all of them. All of them have always been quite happy to answer quick questions if I thought something was urgent and they’d often refer me to the relevant specialist friend if they thought I needed it.

        I think anyone who is any kind of useful professional has to deal with this in some way and needs to set some limits somewhere.

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        Years ago I had a friend who was interning to become a doctor. The stories he told about people coming up to him and asking questions were eye opening. I could picture him doing major surgery in his living room… I thought being a mechanic was bad… 

        I realized after a while that just mentioning that I worked on cars or computers was an invitation to a long conversation. Now if I’m in a hurry and people ask me my background, I just mention my other long time occupation… sales. That usually changes the topic right away… :-)

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          That’s hilarious. I think I might say, “I’m an Amway distributor. Can I have a few minutes of your time?”

          • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

            LOL… I’m adding that one to my arsenal… Very effective :-)

  • http://chasinggoodness.com/ Robyn

    Hi Michael — this post is timely and a simply put a blessing to me. Thank you for the tips – I have been struggling a little with how and where I spend my time. I just realized my time is like a bank account and if I spend it in all the wrong places there’s nothing left for the things I really need and want. 

    I appreciate your tip on accepting that you will be misunderstood. That feels freeing to me – and while it’s tough it is something I need to practice. 
    Thank you again and as Andy Stanley has taught me to close my emails….:)

    Be Bold,
    Robyn

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       Yes, close my email … I keep forgetting that. :)

  • Jason

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time. Great wisdom on how to avoid being a people pleaser.

    Lead on…

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Being a pleaser really is a big piece of this, isn’t it? That desire to care for and meet the needs of others is what sets up the impossible expectations we have for ourselves. Good reminder, Jason.

  • http://www.paulbevans.com/ Paul B Evans

    Folks… bookmark this post. You will use it more times than your realize as you build your platform. I love the depth of #4. I’ve got a very small general list of FAQs, but this really widens the view.

    As far as managing accessibility I think about Mark 1…

    35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’
    38 Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’

    Jesus was aware of his purpose and it shaped his accessibility.

    “Everyone is looking for you.”

    That’s a great expectation.

    The reply… “Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages.”

    He didn’t sacrifice the greater goal for the sake of expectation. Of course, that’s not always as easy for us to balance, but we do need to be wise with our time and focus.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Paul. That is very helpful. I almost used that passage in this post, but it was already getting too long.

      I also wrote this and later edited it out for the same reason …

      Frankly, Christians are often the worst. Inevitably, one of them will chide you for not being “like Jesus.” Presumably, they believe He gave everyone equal access. Not so. Consider how He limited his access while on earth.

      * He limited His access to those who lived in Israel.
      * He limited His access to those who lived at the time He lived on earth.
      * He limited His access to a brief three-year public ministry.
      * He limited His access to those who could understand Hebrew and Aramaic.
      * He limited His access by choosing to come before the invention of mass media.
      * He limited His access by withdrawing from the multitudes.
      * He limited His access by telling people not to talk about what He had done for them.
      * He limited His access by spending more time with the Twelve.
      * He limited His access by spending even more time with the Three.

      Yes, following His resurrection, He gives access to everyone.

      But He is God. And you’re not.

      • http://www.paulbevans.com/ Paul B Evans

        Love that!

        No doubt that the “Christian card” gets played a lot when it comes to access. My favorite is in relation to fees or product sales, “If you were a REAL believer you would help people for free.”

        The truth is that we all help a lot of people for free. We serve and sacrifice. But I don’t think Paul made tents for free or that Peter gave away all his fish. :) But that’s another topic anyway.

        Be blessed.

  • http://www.danieldecker.net/ Daniel Decker

    Very important post. I struggle with this a
    lot. It’s hard because, like you said, the person on the other side doesn’t understand.
    They think, “I’m only asking for 30 minutes of your time. You can’t spare 30
    minutes?” But what they don’t see is the other 20 people asking for the same. 30
    minutes x 20 people = hours of time… time that is taken away from projects / desires of
    my own. I love people and love to help so it’s a constant tension to
    balance. Being intentional is a two way street. Being purposeful with actions
    and time as well as creating the boundaries that enable us to keep moving the
    ball forward (in whatever we feel called to do).

  • http://www.producewithpassion.com/ Dan McCoy

    Ok so this post really hit the spot because “no” is a hard thing for me to say, and I find it difficult to follow up sometimes.   The biggest challenge I find is pulling the out of scope card on a client that pays us for value.  In fact right now I am dealing with one decision maker at a client that is not happy because I told them scrubbing their marketing lists is out of scope for our IT company.  This client organization is so dysfunctional that I have come to the conclusion that there is no amount of effort I can expend that make them happy because it really isn’t us.   It still weighs heavily on me though because I am a high “I” on the DISC scale and I love to please and create value for our clients.  How do do you flush your mind of this and keep focused on continuing to serve your other and future clients well.   God has given me strength but it’s a tough decision to make as a leader.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I think you have to accept the fact that you are going to be uncomfortable regardless of what you decide. It’s just a question of who you want to be uncomfortable with—the client or your own people, including your family? Unfortunately, you can’t make everyone happy.

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    I heard Andy talk about the same subject, and it prompted a blog post of my own that will post next week! I don’t have the same volume of requests, but simply my varying/competing responsibilities (mom, wife, business owner, writer, speaker, consultant) means someone always needs a piece of me. I’ve implemented a few of your suggestions over the past 6 months, and it’s gone a long way to help me manage my tasks, learn to offer a gracious “no,” and make sure the most important people have unhindered access. Still some room for improvement, though.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Okay, but just don’t say no to me, okay? ;-)

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        Ha! I’ll do my best. Just don’t ask me to read your manuscripts. ;)

  • Francisco

    Great article and really helpful for dealing with this same struggles right now. especially the misunderstanding and entitlement.

  • http://twitter.com/averageus Lon Hetrick

    Here’s a problem I’ll never have to deal with, but I respect Michael for addressing it honestly.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Alas, you never know!

  • Brian Sherman jr

    Michael what’s the majic number where you need to start delegating things to other leaders. It seems to me when your personally leading 100-150 people. Sometime I feel that we can only do lead. We need to use our leadership and start training other leaders. Look at Jesus he couldn’t do it by himself . He got 12 men to help and it grew from there.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I don’t think there is a magic number. It depends on the type of work and your capacity. Whenever you start feeling overwhelmed, it is time to consider. Or when you can hire it done cheaper than you can do it. Thanks.

  • Pastornash

    How do I manage it? Not very well… I appreciate the advice you shared in your article, and intend to apply the strategies to my situation, in deciding how to respond to certain requests in advance.

     The final frontier is mine to contend with; dealing with those who are offended, when your level of availability has to change, due to a shift in responsibilities and limited energy.   

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      There’s no easy way to deal with that final frontier. Regardless of how you do it, someone will be offended. Just one of those things where you got to have a little thicker skin.

  • http://exciramedia.com/ Shannon Steffen

    Awesome tips!

    Wondering if you could share some of the “signatures” or scripts you use to respond to those seeking your time. I get the same types of requests all the time and find myself saying “yes” to meetings before my brain has time to process what that truly means.

    For example, a financial adviser called me yesterday and I said “yes” to a lunch meeting. I know, all too well, how this meeting will go and also know it will not be beneficial to me on either a professional or personal level. I have yet to grasp the tactful way of saying “no” and could use some examples to help me in creating my own scripts/signatures.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Follow the link in the post to “Using E-mail Templates to Say No with Grace.” I provide more than a dozen examples.

      • http://exciramedia.com/ Shannon Steffen

         Thanks, Michael! For some reason, I totally missed that.

  • David

    Thanks Michael, great insight!

  • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

    Amen and thank you. As I transition to a new place in my work and ministry, I’m facing some of these issues. Part of the solution for me was to walk away from mentoring writers in a formal sense. And, yes, I created an email response for that. That post you wrote a while back about email signatures really blessed me. Since I implemented them, I’ve had very little kickback, and mostly understanding.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      The key is grace, Mary.  And you naturally lean in that direction.  Congratulations, again, on moving forward toward where God has called you!

      • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

        John, did you know how much God delights in you, even in this very moment? He does. And He is aware of everything you need. Rest there. 

  • http://www.pierrecquinn.com/ Pierre Quinn

    I used to feel guilty for telling people no. Then I found myself putting my family, personal projects, and needs on the back burner to fulfill the requests of others. That’s for the reminder that I need to limit the access that people have to me. 

  • Pingback: Leadership, Success & Accessibility by Michael Hyatt « willowcreeksa

  • http://www.frenettatate.com/ Frenetta Tate

    Hi Michael,

    I enjoyed this post. I speak success into my life and expect that I will reach this level of leadership whereby by I must limit accessibility.  I really appreciate your transparency and your nice-ness for being so willing to share this insight. I now understand why you and John Maxwell are friends. You both bring a fresh perspective and are unselfish in sharing what works and what doesn’t. I am a life long learner and being able to really learn, grow and apply is of great value. You blog post and your book has helped me greatly, as a person and building my brand. THANK YOU for all that do and all that you are. Success is chasing you! Blessings!

  • Pingback: Updates | JD Smith

  • Erin Perry

    There are 8 people on staff at my office. I am the Executive Assistant and can answer 90% of the questions that come in on the phone. When our President & CEO is out people get me when they call. 99.9% of the time someone else in the office can answer or help, but yet people think if they call the top person they are going to get a better response.

  • Lissa

    I was at the writer’s conference in West Palm Beach and appreciated your accessibility. . . in your speech, in book signing and in allowing attendees to have their photo taken with you. Thank you for all you do and your practical wisdom. You are a blessing!

  • Stephengulley

    I totally face this weekly even as an Associate Pastor of a church of only 300. So helpful. I had just thought to create a signature response for one request I always get and save it in my Notes App on my iPhone since I dont have an assistant for that stuff yet. Such a confirm to read your post today. I REALIZE FROM THIS POST my first step is to sit down and sincerely think through who I would count as my Inner Circle. Then I need to unfollow about 20 people. And set these boundaries. Thanks for mentoring through your blog.

  • Ira Webbe Jr

    I wish there was a way to reveal the overwhelming nature of the thanks I want to give for you allowing God to use you in sharing your thoughts on the web.

    Without you knowing(except for me  now making it known) you have, along with other people in my life, guided me towards a better life…a more manageable and purpose-filled life.

    One of the Bible proverbial sayings reminds me of this experienc – ‘In a multitude of counselors there is safety’. I consider your written thoughts one of those counselors in my life.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Ira. I appreciate you taking the time to stop and say “thanks”!

  • JaysonFeltner

    Wow, I love #4 & 5.  I really need to go through my email and figure these out.  I recently came to a breaking point with my business where I had to start screening people, gracefully declining invitations, and delegating.  

    I found two methods worked well.  Book-ending my declines with nice things about the person both before and after my declining.  I also started delegating by saying “I’ll send this to so and so, they’re better at these than I am.  I actually did this so much, I had to hire new people and train them.

    • Jim Martin

      Jayson, I like your idea about book-ending your declines with nice comments about the person.  Even when I say “no,” I still want to be as gracious as possible.

      • JaysonFeltner

        Agreed. I think that’s the hardest part about saying no, you want to always be gracious and it’s hard to do both.

  • http://www.brandongilliland.com/ Brandon Gilliland

    The more successful you become as a leader, the more other people will demand of your time.

    That is so true! Also, the more successful leader you become, the more people will try to tear you down.

  • http://www.brandongilliland.com/ Brandon Gilliland

    By the way, how did you unfollow so many people without getting suspended? Was it because you were a recognized and trusted account?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Follow the link in the post. I explain it all there.

      • http://www.brandongilliland.com/ Brandon Gilliland

        Oh ok. I didn’t see it. Thanks!

      • Ian

        Great Mike how you still respond personally to Comments on your blog. I think it’s important for leaders to do this, however, I do recognise how difficult and time-consuming it can be.

        I also believe the insight into Jesus life is an important one for us all to reflect on. His first priority was His relationship with the Father, then to His inner sanctum and then to the masses. I think this corresponds with another of your posts.

        Best wishes and thanks again for your wisdom.

        Ian

  • http://newequus.wordpress.com/ Mindy at New Equus

    These are great ideas…even at my level of leadership. I have come to realize that my time is extremely precious and I need to learn to say NO more to myself than to others. Mainly because I’m usually one of the first ones to volunteer. Not only am I not respecting my own time, I could possibly be stopping someone else from fulfilling their “mission”.

  • http://twitter.com/PeterKremzar Peter Kremzar

    There’s an interesting book that talks about a similar theme. I have the one from Audible.com:

    The Myth of Multitasking (Unabridged) By Dave Crenshaw Narrated by Dave Crenshaw

    It explains how working on several tasks at the same time actually leads into a very bad performance.

    • Jim Martin

      Peter, thank you for including this resource by Crenshaw in your comment.  I plan to look it up.

  • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

    Fantastic advice! Thanks so much for sharing such actionable, proven steps to protect the tandem, unrenewable resources of time and attention!

    • Jim Martin

      Tor, I plan to clip this post and put it in Evernote.  Too much valuable information that I can use both now and in the future.  

  • Young Leader

    Your posts the last 3 days have been super on point and I wanted to let you know! Re: today’s topic – I don’t, I just said yes to someone I have no interest in having coffee with. Any advice on how to get out of these things?

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      When I have that issue, I say something like this:  “Unfortunately, I don’t have any time available for coffee.  Is there something that I can help you with now?”  

      This accomplishes several things:
      1) It says “no” while respecting the other person.
      2) It requires no additional scheduled time and very little additional time to close out the conversation whether live or online.  
      3) It allows you to listen long enough to confirm that you made the right decision.  If the person’s question is particularly effective and/or wise, I might change course and decide that I want to make the time to invest in the relationship.  If not, I know that I’ve handled them with grace.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        I like this response, John. Very good!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      If you have already agreed, then I would go ahead and keep your word, chalking it up a lesson learned.

  • http://www.LaurindaOnLeadership.com/ Laurinda Bellinger

    Great post. I’m not at the level you are at, but there’s so much I want to do in life. I’m very protective of my time and establish proper boundaries. I had one of my engineering professors tell me “always know the value of your time. You define the value of your time, not your paycheck. Once you know the value of your time, don’t waste it!”  I’ve been duped into thinking that I was helping a friend only to have them suck the life out of me and move onto someone else. Years later they haven’t changed. The advice you laid out here is for everyone regardless of where they are in life. 

  • http://www.faughnfamily.com/ Adam Faughn

    Another way to help in this area is to keep a calendar and include things like “time with family” or “exercise.” When someone asks you for some of your time, then, you can honestly say, “I already have something scheduled for that time.” It is not lying, and it helps you keep prioritized items on your schedule, while keeping other things that could eat into those priorities away.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Agreed, Adam!  I’m making my new “ideal week” calendar based on 
      yesterday’s post on creating more margin.  The first thing for me was to include the non-negotiable family time.  It honors our families and when we say to someone trying to book time “I can’t do that time, how about this one…” it’s never an issue to them!

  • http://www.ninanesdoly.com/ Nina Nesdoly

    These are some great suggestions Michael- the more I compete in my sport and the more my blog and fitness videos are getting viewed, the more I’m asked to “just quickly” help people with thing, usually regarding nutrition or multimedia things. I did a post on ow to Use Timeline, and I’m constantly sending people the link, instead of re explaining things. Works great, so I’m planning more posts like that on video editing, Twitter, etc. 

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      That really is smart, Nina!  Posting a blog and referencing people to it when they contact you saves your time AND builds your platform!

    • Jim Martin

      Nina, I really need to remember this and do this!  What a great idea!

  • http://turnaroundandswim.wordpress.com/ Turnaroundandswim

    I can appreciate where you are coming from and I do not want to assume, but if you always abide by these guidelines and live within your inner circle, is there a chance you may be missing something or someone on the “z” list?  I am a business owner and completely relate to what you are saying.  Yet, I do try to find a few hours in my week to be open to new people, invites or opportunities.  It’s staying on track but open enough to allow for growth. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, that can happen, but honestly, I am meeting new people all the time through my speaking and social media interactions. I am probably missing some opportunities, but that’s okay. I can’t do it all.

  • http://www.shannonmilholland.blogspot.com Shannon Milholland

    These are really great suggestions, Mike! Some I need to implement right away. Others I need to keep in mind as my ministry continues to expand and develop I will keep these in mind.

    I have such great respect for you. Thanks for all your wisdom!

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    Long, but good post.  This is something I don’t have to worry about “too” much at this point in my journey.  In fact, I’m a little bit like Bob Dylan, I don’t really want to be a leader or a spokesperson.  I just want to share my story, promote the act of forgiveness, and hopefully create a residual income to put my daughter though med-school and supplement my retirement.  If that requires some speaking events, some conferences, etc., I’m okay with that, but I don’t really want a large following.  However, your advice on the problems that come with more followers is very good.  Thanks. 

  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    I’m always amazed how you get things done, it’s a challenge to me when I struggle with the little bit of craziness I have. I’m taking note of this post so as I build my platform, I’ll have the advantage of knowing these tips before the storm!

  • Shari

    Thank you for this post! Wow! It spoke volumes to my life and situation.

    Like many others; our life is busy. My husband and I are involved in many things including building up 2 main ministries in our church. My husband is the main or one of the main leaders in these,  and I support and help whenever I can. 
    My husband has said “Not everyone can have access to me”  many
    times, and I just thought he wasn’t being nice enough. I now see the need to be inaccessible to certain people and things.
    Thanks again!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Wow, it’s amazing how a simple post can help us realize something we’ve missed in our lives.

      While saying “no” can seem cruel and un-Christ like, even Jesus had a specific group that had open access to him. Others had to come and let in. And at times Jesus had to retreat to solitude or his “group.” Have you ever seen it in that light?

  • http://www.liveyourwhy.net/ Terry Hadaway

    I’ve put all of the plans in place in preparation for the time when I’ll need to manage my accessibility. At this point, however, I’ll strike up a conversation with stray animals and even myself, if no other life is around!

  • http://www.andytraub.com/ Andy Traub

    You’re handling this very well Mike. I know your heart and it’s probably always going to be hard for you to say “No” but you also know that in doing so you’re saying “Yes” to something else. You’re navigating this well and you serve as a great example for others whose brands are growing and available time is diminishing. 

    • Jim Martin

      Andy, several years ago, it occurred to me (just as you said in your comment) that for every “yes” that I say (regarding my time), I am actually saying “no” to something else.  This realization has been helpful.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Andy. I appreciate your friendship and your encouragement.

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    I appreciate the candid approach to this post.  It’s amazing how they can be categorized as you have done.  This will be a tremendous resource as I continue to move further along in the process.

    I’ve always really struggled to say “no” so I’m excited about crafting a thoughtful response.

  • FrancesVictoria

    Michael. Thank you for sharing your wisdom in today’s posting. Whether you are a leader in your career, in your family, in your community, etc. the perspectives and tools you share are invaluable. I even go so far as to say, they are simply great tools for managing to the multitude of increasing demands on anyone’s life. Thank you!

  • http://www.Godsgracefulness.com/ Janice

    The past few days I’ve been struggling with this. Trying to do it all and there’s one of me. I contacted a friend and was advised to delegate or maybe even hire an assistant. Because I am a control freak I don’t know how I would do with delegating. I want things my way and done correctly. No one knows better than I do. 
    However, I am very intentional about making myself available to my readers. Although there are hundred thousands of them, that’s okay. I want to be available. I may not answer all emails and questions, but I answer the ones I feel “led”. 
    I opened up a public page for subscribers and love talking to my readers as well. However, I do have a personal one that only my friends are aware of and I don’t post any blogging stuff on there. They don’t know that I blog either. 

  • Chriscoussens

    I have no problem saying no to requests. I long ago realized that anything I agree to take on as a me-task has to be REALLY important. If it’s not I won’t get it done. The other 80%+, has to be ignored or delegated.

    I do have a problem saying no to people who show up at my door, or at least limiting my time with them. I like to talk to my staff. Sometimes I have to turn off my light, shut (and lock) my door, and focus on getting something done. When I don’t do this, I find the interruptions are constant.

  • Jamie111464

    Always enjoying reading your posts. I miss the spiritual side of your writings

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your input. I don’t create a dichotomy between the spiritual and the non-spiritutal. It’s all the same seamless reality for me—a life lived before and for God. Just my perspective. Thanks again.

  • http://uncommonlifestyle.com/?p=2486 CathyS

    Michael, Thank you so much for capturing all your great ideas in your new book, Platform. Yours was one of the first blogs I started following and you inspired me to start blogging. My blog has been around for a few years, and with your suggestions, it may just continue to grow. Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/paulorear Paul O’Rear

    Having spent almost my entire adult life in ministry, this is especially difficult for me. While the points you make are practical and completely valid, it’s just difficult. As a successful author (congratulations on the overwhelming, almost instant success of “Platform”, by the way!), how have you managed the personal struggle of knowing that such success has come as a result of many people acknowledging the value of your work, while realizing that there is no way you can possibly have personal interaction even with all of THOSE people – your loyal “fans” – who would love to be more than just a number in the crowd. I would imagine that the people-pleaser in you  has had an especially difficult time with that adjustment.

    Thank you for all you do to help aspiring authors understand the ins and outs of the publishing industry. You have helped shape my journey toward that elusive goal of becoming a published author. I believe it will happen some day, and your insight has been most helpful. God bless you.

  • http://johnmarkharris.net/ John Mark Harris

    The reality is, take an hour to pray/read your Binle, take an hour for each meal, take an hour to shower shave brush 2x a day etc., and sleep as you should… And you’re left with more like 77 hours.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       So it’s even more important to control your accessibility…

      • http://johnmarkharris.net/ John Mark Harris

        Okay… I read my Bible* not my Binle. iPhone phat phinger

  • Josh Palcic

    I am a physical therapist who works with kids with neuromuscular disorders. I am struggling with how to take on additional clients to grow business whole continuing to ever my current caseload. When we have hired in the past, families are reluctant to change therapists because they only want to work with me. While this is flattering, it is frustrating to not be able to grow and serve more children. 

  • http://twitter.com/PromisesFC PromisesFinancialCch

    Brilliant reminders. Thank you!

  • Susan Smith

    Thanks. It hit home deeper than I can express. Once again, thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kathi-Frank/647416902 Kathi Frank

    Your authentic explanation of how you manage time is highly valuable.  Your post helps those who can’t understand…and it guides those who fully understand the situation.

  • Pingback: Five Blogs – 28 June 2012 « 5blogs

  • Elorrainec

    Great read its hard to say no, but I learned the faster you tell the person the more they understand. I’m a law student , full time worker and wife and if I don’t watch my time my grades suffer. I always thankful for the wisdom God gives me of what I should spend my time on first. And I learned if I can’t finish up a project I have to rap it up if possible and finish the following day.

  • Rbmommy4

    Thank you for this! This was something that I need to read. Since becoming a women’s ministry leader and a lay counselor at my local church, I have had people who respect no boundaries and will call me almost daily with an issue that they want me to help them walk through. I had to put my foot down and began to not answer my phone and instead would send a text much later asking if they needed to set up an appointment to talk. It worked! I do not like saying “no” either but have gained some peace back and feel that my family time and life is not being bombarded by people who want access to me all the time. Thanks again! Great read!

  • Stephanie

    I especially appreciated #4 and #5. It’s such a time saver to draft responses to common requests in advance to ensure that you don’t have to repeatedly spend energy to create new responses. 

  • Ashleyscwalls

    I am so glad that I read this. Planning to start putting some of this in motion in August.

  • Mike Critelli

    I like your comments and insights a great deal.  As a former CEO of Pitney Bowes, I experienced the problem you described, and I continue to experience it.  When people used to get on my calendar and wanted something, I would ask them the following questions to reduce the incidence of lengthy presentations, and, also, to short-circuit an unnecessary meeting or call:

    -What do you want me to do?
    -Why are you asking me to do it?
    -Why does it need to be done now?

    I would try t get them to the “punch line” at the beginning of a discussion, which would significantly reduce the wasted time in a meeting and give it much greater focus.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Good questions, Mike. I like them!

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    Oof. Such a tough realization, especially the zero-sum time thing. I want to say yes to everything!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I know. Me, too. But it will destroy you if you do. I’ve learned this the hard way.

  • http://twitter.com/AndrewDMartin1 Andy Martin

    Excellent. If your readers are not quite at the inaccessible place you describe, they should strive to get there. 

  • mlukaszewski

    In an attempt to grow and go to the next level, I shut out too many people and it turned out to be a costly decision.  So while it’s necessary for leaders not to provide unlimited access to people all of the time, I’ve adopted two principles in this area:

    1.  The less accessible you become to many, the more accessible you must become to a few.  Developing authentic, intentional relationships can keep you from becoming a solitary jerk. :)

    2.  Keep your guarded systems private.  The people I know who do this well almost act apologetically in this regard – not making a big deal about their green room or being publicly wisked away.  And they never make people feel less important.

    All in all, while I think accessibility is a necessary issue to examine, it’s really dangerous.

  • http://www.ricardoequips.com/ Ricardo Butler

    This is soooo important. I have had to learn this the hard way. Now I have categories people into inner circles and the multitudes just to get things done and take care of those people who need my time the most.

  • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

    I think this very idea, which is a good one, is why Bob Goff’s phone number in the back of “Love Does” is so surprising and delightful. I used it a couple of weeks ago and was so blessed by our conversation. But I imagine at some point he may become less available as people demand his time more. Never the less I was incredibly thankful for his availability now, it’s a joy and blessing for the average person to have access to the not so average!

  • Pingback: The Parable of the Bridge or “When to Say No to Insistent People” | Dreaming Beneath the Spires

  • http://twitter.com/BrianHolmesLive Brian A. Holmes

    Absolutely on time! Thanks for this. I am really assessing my time, and have realized that the things that are most important are being neglected because of the level of accessibility I am allowing people. Dr. Phil says, “We teach people how to treat us”. I would love to blame others for my lack of productivity in 2012, but at the end of the day, I must re-train people to respect my time.

  • Pingback: Accessible or Aloof | Leadership Voices

  • Pingback: Distractions - Books, Writing & Life

  • http://thejoshcollins.com/ Josh Collins

    Well I’ve got to say part of me hears and sees the inevitable wisdom here but then there is also this part of me that just plain thinks this is disgusting. They are in conflict with one another, and that is primarily due to the fact, that quite honestly most people don’t make decisions based on the method you suggest. Rather, most of us struggle, frankly, with just being present enough to engage anything at all in life. This results in us abusing one another with our lack of engagement and lack of words and response period. I know that’s been my story and also the story of countless numbers of others as well. But to do what you suggest with grace, intentionality and most of all humility is the key, after all, it takes a lot of hard work to get to a place you suggest, but it’s even easier to fall in disgrace.

  • http://daveshrein.com Dave Shrein

    Michael, this was such a great, methodical, response to such a pressing question.

    I have been wrestling back and forth with this concept, “the difference between accessiblity and approachability.” As I watch and observe leaders from my past it seems that those who have a character trait of humility are those who intentionally make themselves approachable. Though they may not be accessible, their approachability allows people to feel comfortable making the type of requests you’ve listed here.

    I haven’t sorted all my thoughts on this just yet but I really feel like your comments here have given me additional food from thought given the breadth of your exposure.

    Thank you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Dave. It is an ongoing challenge for me. I like your distinction between approachability and accessibility.

      • http://johnmarkharris.net/ John Mark Harris

        It’s a good distinction. As long as people have a clear process to connect with the leader, and they know they can “do something” immediately, that goes a long way to helping them. The leader has got to set his terms as to when and how he can be contacted, but in today’s world, we can be very creative and flexible regarding the streams by which people get into that pipeline. One cool thing you can do is allow people to schedule their own appointments online (like at the Apple store). WOW, technology is great.

  • Anonimos

    Be accessible but untouchable. accessibility is our role as Christian soldiers. Because our reward in life is determined by the problems we solve. And successful people are simply problem solvers.
    Well done and thank you.

  • Anonimos

    I believe that the secret of accessibility lies on this: We must be able to maintain the balance between our responsibilities before God and man.

  • Anonimos

    Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinion on this very important topic of leadership. And thank you also for your excellent thoughts concerning accessibility.

  • Erich Robinson

    I agree with a lot of what you say here (great advice). However, I love the philosophy Bob Goff lives by regarding being more available (and this seems to be how Jesus lived). I know we may not be comparing “apples to apples” but what are your thoughts on being more available than being less available? Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      To me the question comes down to, “Available to whom?” I don’t have the same obligation to the masses that I do to my family, my work associates, or those I mentor. I believe this was Jesus’ strategy as well.

  • justin

    Timely topic. This is an area I really need to work on. I am a young pastor and I am planning on sharing that same passage this weekend at possibly the most important leaders meeting i have had yet.

    So many things get to pull at me each week. Since we are a small ministry, I wear a lot of different hats. Because of this, I believe it’s especially important for me to make healthy boundaries so that I can setup people’s realistic expectations of me.

  • Pebbles Eagle-Thompson

    This was a fantastic read. Points 5 and 7 spoke the loudest to me as I have had a fear of saying no with concerns of stifling growth. I will add that I now have two business cards. A general information card my team hands out with contact info to the office for when I travel and to hand out at my speaking engagements vs my personal card that is handed out in limited quantities by me only. Thank you for helping people understand how to avoid burnout and go the long haul.
    PS will you be my mentor ;) J/K