On a recent trip to San Diego, I went to McDonald’s to have lunch. If you follow me on Twitter, this may surprise you, because you know I work out five days a week, ride my bike to work, plus go for 100-kilometer rides at least once a week. And if you know me, you know I’m careful about what I eat (though chocolate chip cookies are my undoing).

And yet I went into a bastion of not-so-healthy food.

Along with my chicken nuggets and large fries I got a large drink. While the large drinks in Canada are pretty big, the one I got in San Diego looked like it would be better used as a small bucket for serving chicken in.

Maybe I could have lugged it home and filled it with water so my kids could swim in it.

The thing is, that even though I was given a huge cup, no one or nothing required me to fill it up. I had complete freedom to only fill the cup 30% full — and not get a refill — if that’s what worked for me.


This same line of thinking applies to many other areas of our life and business. Just because someone calls you doesn’t mean you need to actually answer the call. You don’t have to reply to the email that someone sent you.

I know it may not be polite, but by initiating contact, the other person is putting an obligation on you without your consent. You don’t have to agree to accept that obligation.

Just because someone has a project they think you’d like, you aren’t obligated to take it. Even if it’s a referral from a trusted friend.

Remember that when you get your next referral or the next time your phone rings.

photo credit: ksablan cc

One response to “Just because it’s big, doesn’t mean you have to fill the cup”

  1. John Locke Avatar

    This also fits in with the philosophy that saying no to things you don’t want allows you room to say yes to the things you DO want.