The ultimate sacrifice for success in your field

Dear Changemakers
There are two things you need to get over if you want to make real change in the world:

1. Being liked
2. Pleasing everyone

The reality is, your preoccupation with being liked and pleasing everyone will detract from the essence of who you are, what you stand for and your ability to build the movement you're capable of in business. That is, if this overshadows your focus on the end result.

As humans we want to feel connected, liked, accepted, loved, have meaningful relationships and feel secure. It’s natural and it’s healthy when the balance is right. Collectively we can achieve so much more than a single person. This is less about being able to harness our collective power (necessary for success) and more about absolving your attachment to being liked and pleasing everyone while doing so.

This topic is often fraught with misunderstanding, in that – when people think of a person who isn’t preoccupied with being liked or pleasing everyone, they automatically assume the person is riddled with self-interest, anti-social, not heart-centered or in fact, unlikeable. Let’s dispel these myths right here before moving forward.

Being unattached to how liked you are or pleasing everyone does not mean you can’t have meaningful connections or relationships with peers, your network or clients. It doesn’t give you the permission to stop being a decent person or caring for people. It also doesn’t mean you should stop listening to feedback or going above and beyond to understand the needs of or help your clients or supporters. Lastly, it doesn’t mean you should stop taking responsibility for your mistakes or failures – genuine ownership of these are key to growth and learning.

The reality is that creating a movement and making change is not about you – it’s about those you are making the change for. Those who need the change. Those you are helping. Integrity, empathy and genuine care are paramount in every aspect of life – including business and leadership. It is possible to be a caring, kind, generous, inspiring and evolving leader without being attached to whether everyone likes you or digs what you are about. When we are attached to this, it becomes more about us and less about what we are trying to achieve. We are more focused on our fear of being alone or judged or disliked than on the change we are creating.

The reality is not everyone is going to dig you, your message, your approach, your focus or the work you do. Some people will actively try to sabotage you. They will manipulate their own agenda at your expense – these are not your people. If you're attached to how much everyone likes you or their judgements of you or trying to avoid failures more than achieving the end result, you’ll amass a volume of ‘friends’ (albeit questionable meaningful relationships) while at the same time limiting your potential.

How can this be so? Because in your pursuit to please everyone, you’ll dilute your message, your approach, your momentum and your ability to have real impact. You’ll become just another person in the sea of people instead of the thought leader that you are capable of becoming.

Think of some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet right now or the most inspirational world changers throughout history – they have or had zero attachment to being liked or pleasing everyone. This includes some of the biggest pioneers of human rights. If they had’ve had an attachment to being liked, they would never have succeeded at their movement. Just as much as people applauded their bravery, courage and leadership, many others had heavy criticism. In some cases, they were punished and incarcerated.

It doesn’t mean they didn’t care about what people thought of them or weren’t considerate of how they impacted others. It simply meant they understood that in order to achieve their purpose they had to let go of their compunction to be liked or to please everyone. They had to step out of the crowd, they had to pioneer and bravely navigate unchartered territory.

We sometimes forget the lengths that people have gone to in order to make change. Often we sit here seeking the ‘magic pill’ to changing our lives or the world without being prepared to put in the effort. Sometimes this effort can be exhausting, take unbelievable amounts of courage to speak our mind, spread our message and grow our movement. Sometimes it means having hard conversations with ourselves and others and challenging the status quo – even if this is a lonely place. Sometimes it means facing deep rooted fears and resistance and going through many periods of uncertainty.

Ultimately, it means being so focused on the end result, which is often bigger than ourselves, that we are crazy in our own persistence and belief that it’s achievable against all possible odds. Of course, how far you are willing to go to achieve your goals depends on how important the change is. It doesn’t mean your journey will always feel good or be easy or comfortable – what it means is you need to decide how worthy this pursuit is and what lengths you are prepared to go to in order to see it through.

If this is a problem you are currently struggling with in business, please feel free to get in touch so we can chat about how we can overcome it together.

Shevonne Joyce