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Trying to Please Everyone

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Bill Cosby

This is a tricky quote. If you read it word for word it’s not telling the whole truth, is it? I think we all agree that there can be more causes to failure. In and of itself, trying to please everyone is not a bad thing.

But the point I think Bill Cosby is trying to make is that trying to please everyone is a road that will sooner or later make you feel 1) really bad, and/or 2) really stressed. Why? Because it cannot be done. So there’s where the failure come in.

A serious problem with trying to please everyone is that you might be forced to abandon you ideals. Not everyone will share your ethics and morals. Stooping down, as it were, from the bar you’ve raised for yourself just to make someone else happy will only makes you unhappy. In other words, there will always be a price to pay when trying to please everyone.

What then, should we stop trying to please each other? Not at all! On the contrary, we must do all we can for each other. It should be our goal to please everyone. The problems and the stress begin, however, when we start to measure the success of this goal by counting how many are pleased – or rather, are not pleased – with what we have accomplished.

Before God and man you can only do your best. That’s it. Period. And if your best is not good enough for some people, bluntly speaking: that’s their problem. You’ve done what you can. It’s neither right nor fair that you should punish yourself for something you can’t control.

I know what I’m talking about. In large parts I am this person I am describing. But I have decided not to waste more time and energy (cause I have none to spare) in feeling bad because I can’t make everyone happy. Coming to terms, accepting things as they really are, really helps. I just had to let go of the wishful thinking. But what I kept was the promise that I know we all can pledge to: that we always treat our fellow men with respect and kindness. That must be our gift.

Now the thing with gifts, once you give them away you never know if the receiver will be pleased. Does that mean you refrain from giving? No, you hand them over anyway, because it’s your duty. If your gift is well received, wonderful! If not, you’ve still done a wonderful thing, and you will be blessed for it. The one who looses is not you, but the receiver. Just be happy that you’ve done the right thing.

Be happy also for this great truth:

Although you can’t please everyone, you can always please SOMEONE.

That’s reality. And that’s something to rejoice about.

Brother Louis

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