The Power of No…

Ok, sometimes saying no is hard! Nuvrei Bakery Portland in Portland.


I tend to think the quality of your life reflects what you say yes to.  But I am thinking again.

I’m spending a few days in Portland.  That’s Oregon, not Dorset.   Yes, it’s a bit of a parody of itself at times.  Hipster Central.  “Beervana”. Inspiration for Portlandia.   But, I’m in.  I love the cafes. And the artisan food.  And the indie hotels – check out the retro-funky Ace.   And those fascinating chance conversations (for me, a rarity in US).   All the cycling and particularly the ride I just did in the nearby hills with the effortlessly welcoming folk at Rapha Cycle Club (thanks again, Hillary).  The soul-hydrating fog…

And it seems to me, Portland stands out for what it says NO to.   To the huge billboards that blight most modern cities.  To behemoth retail chains.  To traffic-clogged streets.  To un-zoned, urban sprawl.  Portland consistently ranks amongst the greenest and most sustainable cities in the USA.   It was not always thus.  In the 1850’s, the city grew so rampantly that there wasn’t time to clear the stumps of the felled trees – hence the nickname “Stumptown”.

Today, though, uncontrolled growth is not king.   And that’s a message I hear echoed in the client I am working with here. It’s an internationally respected brand and, yes, they want to grow, but only at a rate that will preserve their product quality and unusually warm ‘family’ spirit.
I hear it again when I talk to my new friends (since yesterday breakfast – this stuff happens in P-town) Marius and Jessica.  They run the sublime patisserie emporium Nuvrei in Portland’s achingly cool Pearl (sic) District.   If they were in New York or London, their hallucinogenically amazing macarons would have been snaffled up by a Hedge Funder and they’d quadrupling in size.  But they’re circumspect.  My sense is they will only expand if that’s something they really want to say yes to.  As a business and – more importantly – as a couple.

Which makes me think.

Everyday we hear about the need to grow.  To see “more” as better.  To prove our businesses by expanding them and our ‘positivity’ by saying yes to all that’s on offer.  But maybe, to have lives we want to live in towns we want to live them, it’s time to start saying no – more wisely, more confidently, more selfishly and more often.

Ok, so what are your top Things to Say No To in 2015?  Please leave a comment below.

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