A very smart 11 year old girl shared some sage wisdom with her father last night, “I can’t tell you what success is, but I can tell you that failure is trying to please everyone”. So right she is. I see it in every workshop I teach in every country I visit; the desire to please everyone is a root case of life imbalance in and outside of the workplace.
We all do it, at least once in a while, agree to do something we don’t want to do or have no intention of following through on. Some of us do it more than others and the reason isn’t because there is anything wrong with that person or the way they think or function in the world, it’s actually comes from a place of good intention.
People try to please everyone because it’s our nature to please others, when the tribe is happy and at ease we are safe. Not to mention I have yet to meet a person who enjoys disappointing someone. We all want to be liked, more than that we want to be accepted and loved for what we believe in. It’s an emotional risk to say no to others. They might reject us, get mad at us or not support what we believe in. So it makes sense that we say yes sometimes to prevent rejection or an argument.
The thing to consider is, each yes you give to someone else that you don’t truly support or feel good about, is a no, a rejection to yourself. There is a fine line between an authentic yes to someone else and an authentic yes to your own needs. The magic is that the people in your life who truly support you will understand the difference and will be completely at ease with your no’s.
Ask yourself, would you rather be loved by a few people who really support what’s important to you or by many who don’t really know what you stand for?
This time of year, you see it discussed on television, hear it on the radio, your friends and family might be talking about it too, resolutions for the New Year. Don’t get me wrong I’m a huge fan of setting goals and looking at the big picture of what you want to create in life.
What drives me crazy is the hugeness of many people resolutions. It’s no wonder so many folks fail or ditch them entirely before the calendar turns to February. Setting intentions can revolutionize your life, but the intentions don’t have to revolutionary to do so.
Participants from my workshops have told me their entire lives have changed just by not taking their cell phones into the bedroom at night. Others have shared that creating date night with their partners has transformed their relationships and others say that learning to listen to their bodies has reduced the level of stress in their life. These are not life changing resolutions, they are small intentional actions.
Instead of thinking about setting big resolutions for the whole year, maybe choose one or two intentional actions to practice each day.
If you asked me a few months ago if I regret anything in my life the answer would have been a very quick no. Up until now, I’ve not really believed in having any regrets. I believe all of our choices good and bad lead us to be exactly where we need to be until we have enough information or awareness to make a different choice and accept accountability for our role and emotions. (Besides, it’s never easy to admit and own the fact we’ve made a mistake about a person, a situation or expression. I mean, who wants to be “wrong” in this perfection driven society?)
What I’ve learn is that the capacity to feel the emotion of regret is true gift, one that can bring you closer to the elusive state of “balance”. I discovered two things about regret that surprised me. The first is regret goes to the core of your values being in conflict – either at your own doing or by someone else’s actions. The second is being honest about linking the regret to your values leads to freedom. Freedom in understanding why you make the choices you do, act, say or behave certain ways in a certain situations.
The pitfall of regret is when we stay stuck in that space. We go to the place where we replay our story over and over again and the opposite feelings come out like gilt, anger, shame or maybe fear. I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure those emotions won’t lead to personal freedom or put you closer to living your values.
To welcome 2013 – feel any regrets you have, understand, release them and move on. You might be surprised to discover the liberation in being “wrong”.