"You Don't Have to" Series, Self Improvement

You Don’t Have to: Please Everyone

Running this blog has shifted my perspective on what it means to be a ‘self-improvement’ writer.

For example, if you read an article on how to be better at not procrastinating, that author probably isn’t a master of getting things done; they probably wrote it because they suck at it. And they’re right there with you, trying to improve.

Just look at some of my posts. I might make it sound like I’m an expert on the subject, but actually I’m inconsistent at getting stuff done, I’m a nervous public speaker, and despite being the self-proclaimed #1 fan of renting, I’m currently looking to purchase a condo.

And how about this very post, ‘You Don’t Have to Please Everyone’? I don’t like going through crosswalks because I hold up traffic. If I interrupt someone I feel like I’ve severely offended them. And in general I live my life in a way as to not overly inconvenience anybody.

The thing is, I don’t want to feel like I need to please everyone. And you know why? Because I’m pretty sure creating meaningful, important change can’t be accomplished without annoying a few folks.

We all know that powerful people, celebrities and politicians all face daily amounts of criticism, but they’re the ones getting stuff done. Oliver Emberton has a great article called: “If you’re not pissing someone off, you’re probably not doing anything important.”

His final paragraph says: “Most of us fear upsetting the emotions of others. When we upset people, we’re compelled to justify ourselves. We yearn to win over our detractors. We seek everyone’s approval. And just one criticism among a hundred compliments burns into our brain like a cigarette.”

Personally, writing this blog has been great practice at putting my ideas out there whether they’re met with acceptance or annoyance. The hardest part hasn’t been so much writing the material but more so putting my articles out for the world to see.

This goes especially for Facebook where all your friends and family can gaze upon and judge your work. It creates a real sense of vulnerability when your personal thoughts are out in the very abrasive and unrelenting world of the internet (read any Youtube comments lately?).

And it’s not like my website is about monster trucks or craft beer…I talk about happiness and feelings and personal stuff. (On a side note, a quick Google search found a great monster truck blog.)

Fortunately I’ve only received positive response so far (thanks mom). But for any website that allows comments it’s only a matter of time before some negativity sneaks it’s way in.

Although some handle it much better than others, there aren’t many folks who are truly immune to criticism or negative comments, whether they be from external sources, or from the most damaging criticism of all: yourself.

I strive to be like the honey badger and not give a shit, or be more like Tim:


David Cain of Raptitude says: “It can be hard to not give a shit. It’s something you have to practice. It should be a celebrated life skill that we teach children, alongside math, shoe-tying and talking to strangers.”

My advice: you don’t have to please everyone, but you should focus on pleasing those closest to you; friends and family because they’re thoughts and feelings are really the only ones that matter. Everyone else can beat it.

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