You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. This is quickly becoming my new mantra. As humans, I believe we seek out approval by others. We want others to like us; we almost thirst for it at times. We want to know that what we do or say is taken in the context of how it was meant. Approval comes in many forms – a good grade on a paper we’ve written, meeting someone for the first time knowing you made just the right impression, or even getting that raise we’ve felt we’ve deserved for a while. I can’t imagine what celebrities must go through as they are constantly criticized by peers or, more often, by those they have never met. In many cases, their very careers depend on others liking them. If they don’t have a big enough following, they’ll see the success of their music/movie/team/etc. fade and, in many cases, their livelihood as well. So often we look for approval in others when we really need to be looking inward. We need to be concerned more with whether or not we are performing to the best of our abilities and not worry how others perceive us.
In high school and college, I was in the colorguard. We were members of the marching band who spun flags or rifles or whatever was called for during that particular show. One of the things I always loved to do, but rarely got to, was an exchange. This meant that you would toss your flag to someone who, at the same time, was tossing their flag to you. This always made the guard nervous until one of my instructors pointed out something that seemed so simple. If you do what you are supposed to do then you shouldn’t have to worry about catching the other flag. By this, she meant if each person makes sure that their flag is tossed at the right time and in the right manner then the flag they are receiving should be right where they expect. All of this was dependent on the occasional gust of wind, but you get the point. Once we individually did what we were supposed to do, the guard as a whole was able to complete the exchange with very few issues and, in some cases, fears.
I recently read something that made me not only laugh, but realize that it fits so many I know, including myself, to a tee. It said, “I’m a people pleaser. Is that okay?” I have tried so hard to please all of the people all the time that I forgot to be happy with my own accomplishments. As a Zumba instructor, I am exposed to this every time I teach. Not everyone will like me. Not everyone will like my music selection or choreography. What I have to remember to ask myself, is that at the end of the day did I do my best? If I can honestly answer that question with a resounding “Yes!” then I have all the approval I need. I will also find that when I’m able to answer that question in the affirmative that the “some of the people all of the time” and the “all of the people some of the time” groups are content and, to me, that is just dandy!!
In any position you hold you will always face some sort of criticism. It’s how you react to it that determines your success. Will I still want everyone to like me? Yes! Is that a realistic goal to have? Well of course not! Am I working on changing that way of thinking? You bet your sweet bippies I am! Learning it’s all about what I focus on at the time can make all the difference in how I feel about myself and my performance. Am I only thinking of those negative comments or do I see it as CONSTRUCTIVE rather than just criticism and use it to my advantage? Just remember, whether you are a “glass is half full” kind of person or have a “glass is half empty” type of outlook, YOU are the one holding the glass!