Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Stop pleasing everyone because you can’t

Aesop, a storyteller who lived in ancient Greece, once said – “Please all and you will please none”; the truth scattered all around us in every bit of our lives. I haven’t observed exception to this; but seen many poor souls ending up bare handed, trying to please everyone.

It’s your instinctive self belief and persistent urge to be good in the eyes of others, which make you audaciously overlook this principle. You need endorsement of your goodness from others. Inherently, you don’t want to offend and push people, but make every possible effort to please them. Who knows when you’ll require their help in future? You can’t afford to say “no” for your own obvious cause and mental peace. This is surprisingly paradoxical. Watch out next time, how far you go to please everyone in your long list of friends, family, relatives, bosses, peers, team members, society etc.?

Pleasing all is akin to keeping aside your own self and dance to the tunes of expectations of people around you. No wonder, opportunist will not wait even for a second to fleece you, opponents will go all the way to make you stand out as a wavering character whose actions are triggered merely to make everyone happy.

Long before I came across Aesop’s saying, I grew up seeing my granny with firm belief that even Gods can’t match up to everyone’s whims and fancies. 

She used to narrate a mythological fable, which had a strong message, and the teaching held universal relevance

“Man mustn’t try to please everyone for he is a mere mortal. Even God, with all the mighty powers, is not able make everyone happy.”          

Lord Shiva, after marrying Parvati, was returning to his abode, mount Kailash. They were riding the sacred bull Nandi, their vehicle; as the journey was long, exhaustive and tiring. Suddenly they noticed people coming from opposite side murmuring and passing on strange looks. One of them yelled, “How cruel the Lord and his newly wedded wife is, both are riding Nandi; not thinking even once about the poor and dumb animal.”

Lord Shiva realized his mistake. He got down and started walking beside Nandi, while Parvati was still sitting, fatigued and sapped. A couple of minutes passed before someone from the group, commented once again, “look, what a disrespectful lady. Herself sitting, and making the bare foot, poor husband walk.”  

Parvati felt guilty. How could she be so unrelenting to her husband? She insisted Lord Shiva to sit on Nandi for the rest of the journey. She got down and started walking. This time an old lady, from the group passing by, got astonished to see the Lord making his wife walk while himself riding Nandi. “What an insensitive husband the Lord is, making his beautiful wife walk on the extremely rough passage. She must be suffering a lot”, the lady said to her companions with a contemptuous laughter.

It was too much by this time for Lord Shiva and Parvati. They were sick by now with frantic and delirious comments of people. There was still an option left.

Lord Shiva got down and started walking along with Parvati. He thought, “Nandi also needs some rest after carrying them on his back for so long”. “This must be fine with everybody”, He murmured, making sure that Parvati listened it.

After a couple of minutes they felt faint laughs and giggles seemingly coming from the groups crossing them. They overheard two young ladies. One of them talking and pointing to Lord Shiva, “I don’t believe that Lord Shiva and his wife can be so foolish. It’s not intelligent to walk when they have Nandi, their vehicle with them. Can’t they ride on him? After all, what’s the use of this healthy and fat bull”.

Lord Shiva had lost his cool as there was nothing he could do now. He tried everything to please everyone. He stopped for a while, as if contemplating his move.

He decided something; and next moment they both were riding on Nandi. They enjoyed rest of the journey; and Nandi also had a sense of gratitude for serving his master, Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati.

Moral of the story is loud and clear. Weigh your options and act on your conscious; you simply can’t please every soul.

Be conscious to your actions and identify the right persons who are being affected and who matter to you. This equally applies whether you are in office, at home, or any place where you interact with people, including internet. 

Stop worrying what others will think:

What people will say if I buy this house and car, if I take this project up, if I contradict my boss, if I assert, if I ask straightforward questions in public forum, if I let my children choose their unconventional career, if I marry this person, if I protest against atrocities, if I help that poor fellow…. the list is never ending. The biggest irony of our lives is that we spend most part worrying about the thinking of others. Those who broke the shackles of this thinking, live happier life and have prospering careers. Stop worrying about others; as in any case you can’t act to everyone’s expectations. Remember, nothing in this world is universally acceptable to all.

Learn to say NO:

Some people will always barge into your space at the most inappropriate moment, or will ask for the favors which may cost you valuable time, money, work, and projects. Politely say NO to such advances; or buy time to think over. Believe me, the world will not crumble, the people will still love you, they’ll respect your assertions and will never mess around with you.

Be assertive in your demands:

Be empathetic and assertive at the same time. Meekness and submission is grossly ineffective tool to please all. Be straightforward in your demands.

Realize the worth:

Ask yourself “Is it really worth doing?” This will give you much needed cause to take decision. It’s perfectly fine to refuse people for the work which you don’t consider worth doing. Stop jumping into something merely to please someone.

Don’t defend unnecessarily:

Don’t defend or offer reasons for your decisions. This backfires and gives inroad to people to coax and cajole you to please them. Explaining reasons of your decisions to everyone is not called for; but certainly to people with stakes, like your boss or team members.    

Stop being scared of the outcome:

Don’t be afraid of the fallout. People think far less than what we assume them thinking. Politely asserting your point and action will not make difference to anyone’s life.

You always have options, weigh them:

Know that you have all the freedom on this earth to say NO or pick one of the numerous ways available to move forward. Analyze your options with in-depth detail and then stick to it. In any way, you’ll have some people who will point fingers, pass remarks, and will not be happy with your decisions. Let it be that way; but with a caution – know the stakeholders who matters to you. Don’t offend them       

You can’t do everything for everyone:

Even Gods are grossly unsuccessful in pleasing everyone. Realize your limitations and work within them. Preserve your time and energy; these are far greater fortunes than pleasing every soul around you.

Set your priorities:

Mark your boundaries and set your priorities clearly with respect to time and tasks. They must be sacrosanct to you. You’ll find yourself in better position to take decisions irrespective of the reactions of the people who don’t matter in broader sense.

Choose your friends carefully:

Choose your allies carefully as thoughts, mindset, and beliefs are dangerously contagious. Various surveys indicate that familiarity to the other person is the major cause when people alter their decisions and compromise, to accommodate everyone and please all. Watch out, this applies to every part of your life. 

Define your limits:

Your capabilities are limitless; your potential can’t be confined to boundaries. There are contradictions inbuilt in this belief. You need to channel your resources, and define    

Do things for yourself:

Beyond everything else in the world, you are an individual with unique identity. Do things for the person you love the most, YOU. Do what you enjoy doing. Pamper yourself on achieving goals, develop hobbies, and enjoy your own company. Remember, in priority list YOU comes on the top. Please yourself. That’s not as difficult a task as pleasing others. Make YOU happy, don’t care about pleasing all.

Remember, it’s not selfishness to take care of yourself, your loved ones, your priorities, and your time. Anyway, you can neither please all nor can you seal each lip who blabbers on every bit of your life.   You must’ve read and listened numerous times, “Be who you are, and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”….. But some does matter and they mind also, finding them and tuning up to them is the art; master it.   

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Hardeep is an entrepreneur, marketer, blogger, an ardent reader and avid writer. He expresses his unbiased views especially on the matters of Business, Tech & Life through this blog. He can be reached at


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