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Trying to Please Everyone

August 19, 2008

“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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19 Comments leave one →
  1. Jennifer Perkins permalink
    October 12, 2014 04:54

    This is the first page that made me feel better. I google quotes when I am sad or need some type of boost. I like the story after the quote. Thanks for posting.

  2. July 10, 2014 15:41

    WoW did I need this today!! I think it (this meaning I guess) started to recurr after the kids left home. I needed to have someone or thing NEED want & love me, maybe not all & not in that order. I rarely had a hard time saying no or feeling bad for doing that. Now? Not so much & I’m in my 50′s!! Sometimes I think its a maturity thing, that I should act my age or the like, cuz it seems so childish/like. I often come across to folks that ‘woe is me’ but if you ask or not, or need something-there I am, hand raised & ready to go. Almost like a brown-nose’r to a T. lol!! (A coincidence? the person posting above me did so a yr exactly from when my so-far-last grandchild was born…I am not superstitious, as a rule, but dates & times matter to me. For another example- the time 4:20. Many days I will look at the clock, timer, mileage, date or whatever- & 420 pops up. I play a silly game & lots of the time (haha) ‘it’ shows up there too. Makes me think of ‘being out west’, lol, I don’t necessarily DO the 420 thingie but good gravy, (random thoughts) Thank you, I guess I needed to write 2day! :D

    • July 10, 2014 19:32

      Hmm wondering if this shows up somehow magically in facebook–

  3. June 14, 2013 16:36

    I’m glad I stumbled upon this article, I mean, this is one of my struggles too. Trying to please everyone makes me unhappy and makes me look at myself as pathetic for not being able to reach their standard. When I get unhappy I sometimes forget that I’m created not to please man but to please God.

  4. mafdaz permalink
    April 2, 2013 22:37

    only trying to please the god ,you happened

  5. November 5, 2012 10:35

    Yep a big puzzle, somehow its easier to lay when one tries to relax a bit more. “Goodie” just comes natural then.

  6. Lewis Cooper Riley permalink
    October 8, 2012 00:28

    reality – – rejoice – – thank you very much . . . !

  7. ina permalink
    May 27, 2012 10:40

    thanks, this is a very very good message for me. Oftentimes I want to please all but i ended up stressed and not totally happy. I think I must try to please myself more especially when i know im right and have the courage to say No! God bless our ways.

  8. Hopefully Honest Christian permalink
    April 13, 2012 13:05

    I’m not so sure we should try to please everyone, after all since when does god ever do the same? he make a very rigid set of rules that obviously very few are going to like them if they like at all, after the fall of Adam and Eve it is our nature to go against his will, unless we put energy otherwise, so while you cannot please everyone and you shouldn’t try to you can always help everyone, and should always try to help everyone even those who curse you

  9. Walter Hevedeich permalink
    July 13, 2010 05:23

    A very nice article. Thank you very much.

  10. Andrea permalink
    May 22, 2010 19:38

    This helped me so much. Thankyou

  11. Adam permalink
    June 17, 2009 01:55

    hmmm, interesting, except Its not cosbys quote. Try Herbert Swope. Its funny because he was a journalist and won the first pulitzer prize, you wrote wrote a whole story on a misquote by a real journalist. its kinda funny and ironic.

    • June 17, 2009 08:52

      The quote is taken from an official publication, standing in my book shelf, stating these are Cosby’s words. You can also find it on countless of quote pages on the internet. There’s no doubt Cosby said this. Swope puts it in a different way, but with the exact same meaning: “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everyone.” I’m sorry but I must have missed your point that this is both funny and ironic? Both men said the same thing. So… I have not made up a “story” on a misquote. If you read the content of my text you will notice I am just teaching a principle, based on my personal feelings.

    • Shabby permalink
      July 10, 2010 01:13

      Hi,

      You’re awesome. And the words you’ve used to set your point across are even more awesome.

      P.S. Adam got owned :P Let’s see you try being a smartass next time Adam.

  12. November 21, 2008 18:06

    This is written very nicely and clearly…..

    “To fail is a natural consequence of trying, To succeed takes time and prolonged effort in the face of unfriendly odds. To think it will be any other way, no matter what you do, is to invite yourself to be hurt and to limit your enthusiasm for trying again”…..David Viscott

  13. Anna permalink
    August 21, 2008 09:07

    I´m so glad you brought this important topic up! It´s something we all struggle with, part of being human, I suppose.

    Myself I was, growing up, the one that turned myself inside out trying to plese – until one day I had no idea who I really was, and had to find myself again! But God is good, He turned on the light, and we´ve furnished and decorated my inner room together. One thing that really helped me is to remind myself that my worth as a person comes not from what others think of me, but from the fact that I am created to mirror God and that He loves me just as I am. This doesn´t mean that I can treat others without love and respect, for what is true about me is also true about them!

  14. August 19, 2008 23:18

    HEJ LOUIS. I CAN ONLY SAY IT IS RIGHT,THAT WE CAN NOT MAKE ALL PEOPLE HAPPY AND WE CAN NOT PLEASE ALL. WE CAN ONLY DO OUR BEST WHEN WE TRY TO MAKE A FRIEND OR A FAMILY MEMBER HAPPY. HUGS FROM YOUR FRIEND LENE MARIE.

  15. August 19, 2008 11:38

    I am sure many of us can relate to this, myself included. We try so hard, we want so much to please everyone. And letting go of the wishful thinking; well that can be a challenge.

    I believe the most important thing is being true to yourself. Because if you’re not, in the end you will have nothing to give to anyone. The tricky part is finding the balance in being true to your own ideals without stepping on someone else’s toes.
    I guess in some cases, that cannot really be done either!

    Maybe we need to remind ourselves “I am good enough” more often.
    And I like what you say; We never know whether or not the receiver will be pleased, but the gift has it’s own value anyhow ’cause you have done the right thing giving it. There’s a lot of wisdom in that.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Linda

  16. Belle permalink
    August 19, 2008 08:55

    Gosh, I’m really touched by this article…
    You know why??? Well, what you describe is actualy one of my biggest problems.
    I just can’t say “NO” to someone, and that brought me in a lot of troubles the past few years. My husband just hates that!
    I wish I could do something about it, but it is so difficult to choose the right way between!
    Every time I hope God will help me to find the right way…I just want to HELP everyone, and I just can’t accept this is not possible. Stuborn as I am…

    XXX

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