The Curse of the People Pleaser

put em upOf all the things one could do too much of, pleasing people isn’t so bad right? After all, it’s caring and considerate to put the wishes of others first.

Actually, the opposite can also be true. Let me explain.

Positive Change Is Not Usually Pleasant

Growth in a positive direction often requires discomfort and pain. Healthy people do not enjoy discomfort and pain. If as a leader, you struggle with the need to please, you have to look past the immediate reactions of those you upset. The same thing that upsets someone could be what makes them better. The decision to please someone could be depriving them of the growth they desperately need.

“Keeping everyone happy” is not only unreasonable, it’s impossible. The very effort to keep someone happy will likely upset someone else. In his book, Never Go Back, Dr. Henry Cloud writes, “The only way to avoid upsetting anyone is to believe, say, or do nothing at all.” The bottom line is, positive action will certainly upset someone. A leader needs to make decisions based on what is right, not on what makes people happy.


Most People Do Not Like Change

Some folks are more comfortable with change than others. Referencing the DISC personality profile, it is estimated that 67% of the United States population is identified as the S personality. S’s are great team players, loyal and helpful. They are people oriented, agreeable and generally well-balanced. Beneath all these wonderful traits, lies their Kryptonite. The need for security. This same need is what leads them to avoid change whenever possible. 67% of Americans don’t like change! As leaders, we need to recognize how our decisions, even if they lead to positive growth, can be threatening to many of our employees. It must be over communicated that you are with them and that the change you are making will make things better. When a leader aims to please rather than do what’s best for everyone, he or she is stifling the growth of the organization.

What’s Beneath the Need to Please?

People pleasing leaders have an internal battle on their hands. Their approachable, people oriented, relational characteristics are often the very traits which led to them to the place they are today. Why stop? After all, it’s the reason they are well liked and it’s the reason for the security they now enjoy. At some point in their lives, they decided being well-liked was a priority. Perhaps in the past, their security was threatened by not being accepted by a group or by not gaining someones approval. The need to please can be an incredibly strong motivator. How else can you explain someone staying in an abusive relationship? Keeping people happy may work for a while but what happens when someone gets upset? People pleasing leaders find themselves in a never-ending struggle, where the emotions of others govern the decisions that are made. Not good.stressed-646457__180

 The Takeaway:

If you are a leader who feels tempted to make decisions based on keeping people happy, ask yourself this question when you have a decision to make. “Am I doing this because someone is upset with me or because it’s the right thing to do?”


The “Stuck” Stops Here!

diving-455765_1280What do you want out of life?  Do you know? Can you name it?

Thomas Edison said, “Restlessness and discontent are the first necessities of progress.”

There is a fine line between despair and breakthrough. Are you are frustrated with where you are right now in life? If you’re not living the life you want or you aren’t on a path toward the life you want, you are likely stuck. I have been there and I know how defeating it can feel. It’s time to do something about it. Decide to be someone who uses their pain as a rocket that launches them toward the life they were made for.people-430534_1280

Here are 4 things you can do right now:

1. Know Your Ideal Day

Do you know what a perfect day looks like for you personally?  Is a great day just a random combination of events that happen to end up in your favor? It’s amazing to me when I ask people what their ideal day looks like and they have no idea. I’ve heard responses like “I just want to avoid drama and be productive,” or “I want to go to a tropical island instead of going to work.” Often the pain of a strained relationships or an uninspiring work environment trick us into thinking that comfort will make us happy. We have to look beyond relief from circumstances we don’t like and think about what will really make us feel alive. How can we intentionally have more great days if we aren’t clear about what makes them great?

Action Step: Spend 20 mins of uninterrupted time and think about the best days you’ve ever experienced. What kind of people were you with? What were you doing? What risks did you take? Where were you? Write down everything you can think of.  You will likely see that the people and environments that made your day great can be repeated if you are intentional.

2. Pick One Thing to Fix 

We all have issues that hold us back. Fear, anger, jealousy, weight problems, addictions, health issues, bad habits, laziness etc.  I’m getting depressed just thinking about them. It’s been there for years, gnawing at you. You’ve tried before, but for whatever reason, you haven’t been able to change. There is not enough time in life to let these things hold us back anymore. It’s time to do something about it.  Just pick one thing and decide that it will no longer be something you are willing to tolerate. Decide you will do whatever it takes.waiting-410328_1280

Action Step: Every morning, write down the thing you want to change.  Then write down what you’re going to do that day to change it.  It might mean calling a counselor, taking a jog, having one less cigarette, etc.  Do this everyday until the thing that has been holding you back is no longer a part of your life.

3. Pick One Person

We all have someone in our life that deserves more from us. It could be more of our time, more of our affection, more of our service, etc.  The joy we receive from making someone else’s life better is difficult to match.  That person may have already popped into your head. Make it happen.girl-421458_1280

Action Step: Identify one person in your life and decide you’re going to treat them better. Do something everyday that will bring them joy. It could be as small as an encouraging text message.

4. Take One Small Bite Out of Your Big Dream

“The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” Proverbs 20:5

In the midst of the difficulties of life, holding onto a dream can feel like a waste of time. In the not too distant past, my big dream was to have enough money to pay my bills!  Never the less, in order to feel alive, we have to have a dream that we are pursuing.

Napoleon Hill said, “Cherish your visions and dreams as they are children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate accomplishments.”

Carl Sandburg said, “Nothing happens unless first a dream.”

Brian Tracy said,“All successful men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.”walk-617389_1280

You may not clearly know what your dream is, which is quite alright, it gets more and more clear as you take steps forward, not before. The good news is, it doesn’t all have to happen in a day but it does have to happen everyday. Choose something you’ve always been interested in. What would you read about for your own entertainment?  What event would you go to, even if you didn’t have to? Would would you build? Where would you go? Pick one thing and start nibbling.

Action Step:  Once you’ve picked something, spend 30 minutes per day learning more about it. Read books about it, talk to people who are doing it, watch videos about it, read blogs about it, etc. 30 minutes a day. Would it be worth giving up a half hour of mindless television if it meant you were getting one step closer to your dream? Worried about making the wrong choice? Not to worry, if you find out it’s not the right direction, you can pick something new.  At worst, you’ve learned something.

To Summarize:

1. Figure out what your ideal day looks like and write it down

2. Pick “one thing” you want to change and every morning, write down what you’re going to do to make that change a reality.

3. Pick one person who you want to treat better and do something nice for them every day.

4. Spend 3o minutes per day learning more about something that interests you.

I dare you to do this for the next days.

Tell me how it goes in the comments and tell me how I can help you along the way.  It will take courage and you will face resistance but do it anyway.  Life is too short not to!