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Wisdom From The Blues

One of the songs on my workout playlist is the blues song Dat Maybe by Tas Cru. While the song is about love and honesty in a relationship there are powerful life and leadership messages in the chorus:

“Don’t say you will if you think you won’t. Don’t say you do if you know you don’t. Don’t give me that heh, don’t give that ho, don’t give me that maybe when your heart says no.”

The three key lessons:

  1. Be honest.
  2. Do what you say you will do.
  3. There is some great wisdom in blues lyrics.

Don’t say you will if you know you won’t. If you do not have the time, if the request is not in alignment with your values and priorities, if you are not going to be able to follow through then let the other person know that up front.  That will take a lot of stress off of you, let the other person move forward or in a different direction and will preserve, and likely enhance your relationship. If you say you will, then follow through and do what you said you would do.

Don’t say you do if you know you don’t. Don’t say you will support that person for promotion, or that you support the project or initiative if you don’t. Be honest. Be helpful. Offer guidance on what areas the person needs further experience, training or development to earn your support.

Don’t say maybe if your heart says no. If your heart says no then connect your heart to your mouth and say no. Don’t string the other person along just because it is easier than saying no up front. You know you will not follow through and will just come up with some lame excuse down the line why you can’t.

“No” is a hard word for many of us to say because we want to help and we want to be seen as being positive and supportive. You can say no politely and professionally. Failure to say no when you do not have the time, energy or belief however, results in being over committed, stretched too thin, stressed out and burned out. It leaves you feeling resentful and angry. It destroys trust and relationships.

Everything you say “yes” to means you end up saying “no” to something else, perhaps something that is ultimately more important. Some of my deepest frustrations and regrets are from saying yes, or maybe, when I should have said no.

Say no more often. When you do say yes, do what you said you would do. And, listen to the blues more often.

Remember that leadership is a choice and a journey and it starts with you. Choose well, keep learning and enjoy the journey.

Brian Willis

Register yourself, and your team for the Dare to Be Great: Strategies for Creating a Culture of Leading online workshop to get everyone on the same page regarding leadership and culture. If you are interested in hosting a live Dare to Be Great workshop reach out to me at