I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.--Bill Cosby
I am so blessed to have the space I do to work in. Today my view through my windows is of crisp white snow and snow clinging to mature cedars at the back of our property. The view reflects the positive state I’m in a majority of the time, and I am eternally grateful for the changes in my life that allow me to see the beauty all around me.
Years ago, my favourite lady, my Aunt Ruth, used to take me to see Bill Cosby. This was well before he was a sitcom guy. I love both his comedy and wisdom. The quote above, which came as a part of a reading, was a good reminder for me today.
I, for one, spent many a year trying to please others. Pleasing others for a myriad of reasons was very important to me. I wanted love and wanted affirmation from others that I was OK.
If you can relate to this then please read on.
As Cosby states, trying to please everybody was a key to failure in many parts of my life. I had lost something critical to success; ME. I may have come across as self-centred and at times “insecure and needy”. Frequently I tried to I cover this by acting arrogant or superior. I know today that my actions were a cry out for security and that stemmed from a lack of self-esteem.
As I got older, things got worse. I became whatever person I thought would make others happy, and I sought affirmation of myself in all the wrong places and ways. I looked for all types of ways to fill the hole inside yet things got progressively worse, not better.
Christmas and the holiday time were the worst time of the year for my people pleasing. Look at the opportunities that come about, particularly with the ability to give the biggest and best present, to be flowery in cards I wrote and to be the best Christmas guy around.
When the smoke cleared after the celebrations, that hole was still there.
Through some tough lessons and sinking (in my own mind) to levels I did not want to be at, I was taught a great lesson by a “help giving professional” I had sought ought.
In my own way, I had been running my tail off to please others. I had not learned why I had that hole in me and what I truly had to do to fill it. The learning started a journey for me, a journey I continue on to this day. Healing was a process of life transformation and recovery.
I go through a brief exercise with most of my clients. It shows that you can’t give away what you haven’t got. How do you please (or even love) others wholly if you can’t do it for yourself.
In some ways the life I had led would seem selfish, and it was. People pleasing was part of the manifestation of this. A paradox became real. I had to get truly selfish to become unselfish. I had to take the time, and get the help to work on me; and it has paid huge dividends, dividends that can’t be measured in dollars and cents.
The scene before me is a reminder that Christmas is coming. Because of the road I’ve travelled, Christmas is now totally different. Sure we give and receive gifts. Both in my personal life and family life I love to give. There is now a huge difference.
Today the priority is not to please you (although it’s lovely to see joy in others). I can do things that please me and the power that guides my life and in doing this, it seems to bring joy to many of those in my life. The hole inside is very small.
I cannot please all of the people all of the time and I long ago quit trying. Without that hole inside of me, I can do what I believe is right without the motive of trying to simply please others and this does give me personal serenity, pleasure and gratitude.
Mr. Cosby you are so right, trying to please everybody is a key to failure.
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Author's Bio: 

Keith Bray is a Master Certified Coach coaching clients to success.