You earn the right to say no, when your boss and other leaders trust that you are saying yes to the right things and spending time on what's important.
To build trust, tell stories. Start every meeting with your boss by telling a story about what you're crushing, winning, learning, and solving.
Have you ever gotten this feedback: “you need to be more strategic?" You probably thought, "...why didn't my manager see all the strategic things I was rocking in the first place?" They likely didn't know your story or didn't have the story right. Most managers will open a one-on-one meeting with, “What’s up?”, “How’s it going?”, “How’s your week been?”, or “What are you working on?” Frankly, that is lazy. Managers should show up with something better. Regardless, don’t fall for the trap of running through your to-do list, describing how you feel that day, or diving into what you're worried about. Save those for later in your conversation. What your manager really wants to hear at the start of your meeting is a story. A story about the impact you’re making. So, come prepared. Prepare a story in advance about the large problems you’re solving. The ideas you have. Things you discovered. Outcomes you achieved. How you’re inflecting better long-term performance of the business. Make your specific contributions clear. Without consistently telling a story about your impact, it will rarely get noticed or remembered—that’s the hard truth. If your boss has the story right about the ways you are "being strategic" it builds the trust you need to push back, say no, and spend your time in a better way.
Growth and comfort do not coexist. Ginni Rometty Former CEO of IBM