Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.
In this week’s edition:
1) They hate me. Why that’s good.
2) Feedback from the CEO of Sure Travel
They hate me. Why that’s good
I’m a people pleaser, there I said it. I want to be loved by all. Come on be honest, don’t you? The most successful people I know are people pleasers, they like to be liked. What’s wrong with that? People pleasers are usually great entrepreneurs; they’re driven to create products and services that satisfy. People pleasers are usually great philanthropists; they’re driven to help those who are suffering. People pleasers are usually terrific spouses and friends – they’re nice! People pleasing only becomes pathological when you give up on your own values to please someone else. If someone starts gossiping to you about a mutual friend, you may please the gossiper to join in, but that would obviously be displeasing to the one who was being gossiped about. In effect you would be a “people-displeaser.” Also, authentic people pleasing doesn’t mean allowing yourself to be trampled on, (ultimately that would be displeasing to you), it means being empathic, understanding people’s needs and meeting them in a way that doesn’t ride roughshod over your own. And the reward for pleasing others is…drum roll please… being loved. Yes, as one of the characters in my book says, “love is conditional.” It’s conditional on being pleasing.
So, I’m a people pleaser. I wrote my latest book, Quest Inc. because writing inspirational stories is my love, my craft, my quest, my passion, but also because this is my route to pleasing people. I want them to be inspired and entertained by the book. I want it to change their lives, I really do. But let me be totally honest with you, I also want all that because that way I’ll please them and they’ll love me. Wanting to please my readers is why I’ve spent three and a half years on this project. Pleasing people is the horse that drives the cart of my passion. Sure I’m also intrinsically motivated to write, I love it! But would I still do it if everyone hated my work? I think you know the answer. I may love what I do but I also need to hear the applause.
So as you know from my last blog, I got ten readers to evaluate Quest Inc. In the brave new world of publishing, the reader is the arbiter of taste not the publisher. I needed to know if the book was ready to go. The truth is over the past three and a half years I have had many laypeople and experts read and evaluate. My first few drafts were so bad that I could have won the “Reader Displeaser” award for 2008 and 09! That was painful, but it motivated me to learn more, try harder and get better. What I’ve discovered is that it’s not how good you are, it’s how good you are motivated to become, and learning to please others is a pretty powerful motivator. Good news! I’ve finally started pleasing readers, almost all my evaluators have given me five-star rated reviews, and some of those early readers who were using my manuscript to clean up dog poop are telling me the book is a winner. Except… one of my recent evaluators told me: “If I had not undertaken to review the book I would have stopped, would I recommend the book – sadly no. Would I buy the sequel – again sadly no.”
Whew! Tough news for a people pleaser. Now I’m pretty good at taking critical feedback, it’s been the single most important way I’ve improved as a speaker and writer. When I look back at my first draft, the one before I had received any feedback, I wonder how I could have written it. It’s really bad! Fifteen drafts later and a telephone book size wad of feedback and I know it’s come along way and yet still, someone hates it. Now don’t ask me why it’s taken me this long to figure it out but that’s not just okay, it’s not just right, it’s good! Nearly half of America hate their president yet he still got into power. Not everyone has to love you to succeed. In fact if you’re not running for president you only need a tiny fraction of the population to like you.
I called up the guy who hated my book, we had a great chat, (he’s a nice guy!). He had bought one of my previous books and was disappointed that this one didn’t live up to expectation, who can blame him, turns out he doesn’t read novels – Quest inc. is a novel. He likes his personal development information straight up and to the point. News Flash: he’s not my target market. Had he loved my book, it means it would have been too didactic for the readers I’m going for, those looking for stories that entertain and inspire. More than half the world is probably going to hate my book but if only one percent does, that’s still sixty million people! I think I can live with that.
So, maybe I’m not a people pleaser, I’m a Target-Market-Pleaser. Not everyone has to love me, just a few 🙂
What’s your quest? Who do you have to please to make it a reality? It’s probably fewer people than you think.
International Speaker and Author
Feedback from Suretravel Focus Forum at the Oyster Box in Umhlanga
I know we said a million thanks to you before departure, however officially let me say THANK YOU on behalf of all of the Sure Travel members who attended the conference. You were brilliant! A very big part of the success was your skilful facilitation and enlightening insights which made the program very interesting from start to the WOW ending.
Vanya Lessing, CEO, Sure Travel