How to Prioritize Goals and Avoid Distractions by Saying No - Louise Davis

In Chapter 14 of 20 in her 2009 Capture Your Flag interview, non-profit Peer Health Exchange (PHE) co-founder Louise Davis addresses why turning down requests - deciding to say no - not central to the PHE primary mission constant challenges her and her team. Davis and her team prioritize discipline to avoid distraction from the PHE purpose providing health education to high school students. To do this, PHE aligns efforts with its clearly stated primary mission and continuously evaluates decisions based on the principles.


Erik Michielsen:  What has been the most difficult part of your journey to date?

Louise Davis:  I think the most difficult part of my personal journey is deciding where to say no to the things that are always pulling on your work and impact.  Which is just to say, I think when you are committed to a cause like we are, to health education, you end up opening yourself up to a lot of different demands on that cause.  I think many if not all of them are really legitimate.  But to do one thing really well you have to just do one thing or do as close to that one thing as possible.  For us and for me, it has been a challenge to just be really clear, focused, and disciplined about that one goal and not get too distracted by the many other things that are totally legitimate that demand our time and energy, my time and energy.   Right now we are at that point where we can start to imagine doing more than we have done in the past and it is a really exciting moment.  I think we have to stay very clear on what it is we are going to do and what it is we are not going to do.  It is always harder to say no than it is to say yes so I think that is a constant challenge in this work.

Erik Michielsen:  How do you go through setting those priorities and following through with them?

Louise Davis:  We try to just be really clear in our mission and our work what we are trying to achieve and we map every opportunity directly to that mission.  If it does not have a direct map, we don`t do it.  We try to be really clear about that.