Wednesday, November 21, 2007

to an audience of one...

I've been thinking a lot about people pleasing. I have some friends that I've always thought struggled a bit too much with people pleasing. It's a hard one to talk about, because why wouldn't you want to please other people? Isn't that part of our deal?

On one hand, the world around us is telling us to look out for number one. That's not a very good strategy (unless you don't care about the kid in Darfur or the homeless girl living on the street a few blocks away)and if we make it our goal to please other people - we'll eventually go crazy.

-We'll make decisions that are based on other people being happy, as opposed to doing the right thing.
-We'll wrap up our significance in whether or not we're liked, and how many times we're told that we're the greatest.
-we'll compromise.
-and don't forget - we'll go crazy.

I have a few friends that are great speakers/performers. There are probably 8-10 people that I have some regular interaction with that get asked to drive or fly to far away destinations and speak or perform in front of groups. Some of them pursue these things, and some of them are just sought out.

They're really good. They have some gifts that they don't rely on. They work on them and get better...and people notice those gifts and begin to ask them to use those gifts at various functions. They're better at these things than you or me (and if you're thinking, "not me" then read chapter 18 of C.S. Lewis' book on the basics of his faith). My point is that they're really good.

Every time they speak or perform on some level, they invariably have a bunch of people come up to them and thank them for doing so. They get great feedback and are often asked back. And they also get e-mails, calls, and ugly evaluations. Always.

I'm doing evaluations for an event we have right now and a dozen or so people have commented on how much they love a particular thing - and one or two will comment on how much they hate that same thing. We have some people rate a particular speaker a 10 (on a scale of 1-5) and some people rate that same speaker a 0 (again, on a scale of 1-5). On some things, it's just impossible to make everyone happy - and that's ok.


A friend of mine pulled off an incredibly successful event this past weekend. I've seen this event for three years in a row and this was by far the best it's ever gone. I've talked with some folks who were around when the event began, and they say the same thing. She spent a good part of yesterday fielding calls and e-mails from folks who were really mad about the things she had changed. One lady that had two entire turkey dinners delivered to her house told my friend to "go to hell" because she didn't deliver three...


That lady who called really helped me to put into perspective this whole issue. If you're going to personally deliver two entire turkey dinners - that would feed 10 people - to one lady...and that lady is still going to complain about the two free 10 lb. turkeys...stuffing, vegetables, etc. - this kind of thing will drive you crazy.

And what do you think my friend is thinking about and talking about more? The great comments - or the crazy lady?

me too...
and it drives me crazy


  1. great post, shawwwwn. bout time. i've been unpleased with your posts as of late. like a 1 out of 5 maybe....

    looking forward to my next chance to speak at alpha.


  2. I used to want to please people all of the time. But then I realized people are crazy. So I decided to just please myself. But then I realized that I was crazy, too.

    Then I realized the key to life: there is only one person we need to please...our top donor.