Trying too hard to get it right?

When I was a child, I spent a lot of time trying to ‘fit in’. My family moved around a lot, so I had plenty of practice at being the new kid at school. One thing I got good at doing was adapting. 

Which comes in handy when you’re setting up in business, exploring new ground, adapting, evolving and generally making it up as you go along.

But sometimes, my ability to adapt can go too far. Sometimes I’m too willing to adapt, too eager to please. Sometimes adapting becomes people pleasing.

I found myself in a situation recently, where I was under pressure to ‘get it right’. There was a lot at stake, professionally, commercially and personally. When what I delivered didn’t quite hit the spot, it took up so much space in my head, trying to figure it out, work out what was missing, what went wrong, what I should have done differently, or how I needed to change.

All that wrestling got me nowhere. Until a friend reminded me of something I often say to her:

Some people get it. Some don’t. 

If they don’t get it, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got it wrong. It just means they didn’t get it.

You can help them get it, if they want your help (which is different from changing yourself or running off to find a different ‘it’ to give them).

And don’t forget the people who do get it, and absolutely want what you have to give.

People pleasing happens when you start thinking more about “what will make them happy” than “what will help them”, when you’re focused more on “what do they want from me?” rather than “how can I best serve these people?”

It takes us down the road of questioning ourselves and doubting the value of what we have to give. It convinces us that we need to change, to be someone else, to be accepted, loved and valued. It lures us away from what we do best, and has us chasing shadows…

And ironically that’s when we have the least impact. When we try to change who we are to fit in, the best we can do is a good imitation.

As Judy Garland said, “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”

It’s only when we stand firm in who we are and what we have to give, that we can give our best – and funnily enough, that’s when we do our best adapting too.

In my particular situation, I went back with a perspective of “How can I help?” rather than “What did I do wrong?” and we had a really useful conversation, that will hopefully be the start of a fruitful partnership.

What about you? Do you sometimes slip into people pleasing? Do you get tempted to fundamentally change who you are or what you offer, to fit in with what you think other people want?

Remember, some people won’t get it. And that’s ok. Instead of trying to please everybody, ask yourself this:

When am I at my best?

How do I give my best?

Who do I give my best to?

I’d love your take on this. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

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