Some years ago, the Chinese government said that the Dalai Lama “has not only refused to admit his monstrous crimes, but he has continued to perpetuate fraud.” The Dalai Lama! Have you ever heard or read anything the Dalai Lama has said? It is almost exclusively about giving of yourself, love for your fellow being, and finding peace and forgiveness. Yet, the Chinese government hates the guy.
The president with the highest approval ratings on record? George W. Bush at 92% (right after 9/11). The president with the lowest approval ratings on record? George W. Bush. I guess we couldn’t decide if he was awesome or terrible.
Ghandi has been credited with freeing India of British colonialism as well as lying in bed with his grand-niece to test his ability to resist getting an erection. There have been entire essays written about how awful Mother Teresa was.
Steve Jobs has been called “rude, dismissive, hostile, [and] spiteful” and he said Bill Gates “shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.” These are two of the most influential technology figures of the modern age. Jerks, apparently. Both of them. But you must admit, they did some interesting stuff.
Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.
— Colin Powell
One thing that I’ve been reminded of recently is that it is not possible to please everyone and trying to isn’t a good thing. Consensus isn’t about making everyone happy. It’s about avoiding conflict, and so pulls to the dull, gray mean. Sometimes, that’s OK– like deciding what’s for lunch. Sometimes it’s not– like deciding where to lead your team or where to lead your own life.
My suggestion? Stop trying to be everything to everyone. Do what you think is right for you and accept that you are the only one who knows what that is. I’m not saying that you should be a selfish pig. This isn’t the short version of The Fountainhead. Deciding what’s right to me also involves considering how my actions will impact those around me. That’s part of my equation.
What I am saying is that trying to please too many people ultimately leads to pleasing no one, least of all yourself. You can listen to people. Respect their opinion. Consider it in the light of the facts and your beliefs. And then do what you think is right, knowing that there will be people who don’t like it. Because, the reality is, that will be true no matter what you do.
Respect others, but don’t shy away from expressing your opinion and making difficult decisions that some people won’t like. It’s called integrity, and it’s the basis of good parenting, good leadership, and a good life.