Would You Say Yes Again?©

In his fabulous book Good to Great, Jim Collins invites businesses and business leaders to focus on their people before anything else—what he refers to as “first who, then what.” Collins goes on to provide us with a seminal theme: Get the right people on the bus in the right seats and then figure out where to go. Whether you consider Jim Collins’ perspectives on people and hiring to be breaking new ground or merely reframing old thoughts, most people would agree that his wisdom is sound and impactful when faithfully executed. However, we may not be applying his wisdom far enough or widely enough since his principles can also be used to help us make critical decisions in other areas of our lives.

One key element of Jim Collins’ approach to hiring and firing in order to have the best possible people on a team is the suggestion to use the following two questions with respect to any employee (paraphrased):

  1. If you had to do it over, would you hire this person again? and/or
  2. If he or she suddenly resigned, would you be disappointed?

The concept is simple: If the answer to each question is “no,” then it’s time to let them go. If, instead, the answer to the questions is “yes,” then they are keepers. In fact, if you’d be relieved if the person resigned, then you have a clear decision to make. Two simple questions to help you assess and make decisions with respect to any employee, but in what ways can these same (or similar) questions help us make decisions in other areas of our lives?

If you’re like me, you struggle with commitments. There are so many things to occupy our time—work, family, friends, hobbies, sports, entertainment, groups, organizations, community efforts, etc.—and there is certainly not enough time for all of them. There are so many things that I would like to do, but the problem is that they are not all things that I should do. What if I applied Jim Collins’ two questions above to the commitments, activities or organizations that I am already involved with?

  1. If you had the opportunity to consider it again, would you join or get involved with this activity, group or organization? and / or
  2. If this activity, group or organization was suddenly removed from your calendar, would you be disappointed?

If the answer to both questions is “yes,” then you’re probably doing what you should be and are involved where you should be involved. However, if the answer to either question is “no,” then perhaps it’s time to reconsider and re-assess your activities or involvement.

If you’re like me, it’s easy to say yes, and you sometimes get involved with things that just sounded good at the time. Being a good steward of my time and resources, however, means that I must continually assess and re-assess where I invest them both. Borrowing these two questions from Jim Collins is a great way to change your life from good to great!


  1. Interesting adaptation of Collins’ principles. I never thought of it that way….I think there are plenty of commitments I may say “no” to…thanks for the thoughts

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