Today I had a revelation. It actually started last night. Truly it started about 10 years ago. But today it all made sense.
It started in an acting class over a decade ago. I had no aspiration to professionaly act, but this class in Beverly Hills was filled with a magic I can’t explain to transform reality. I don’t think 80% of the class had a burning desire to be a professional actor, but 99% of the class was there for the growth.
The other 1%… They got removed from the class.
At the time I thought it was brutal to take cynics and give them a chance to break free of their cynicism or else leave. Why did it matter if they were just sitting there? Did it make a difference if they wanted to do this or not? As long as they paid shouldn’t they just get to watch even if they didn’t participate?
I had all these doubts about this extreme methodology.
I wanted everyone to be happy. We couldn’t just cast people out, you know?
I spent a long time “chasing waterfalls” trying to prop people up who had no interest in being propped up. I would go out of my way to show people a better way to do something, a happier side of life… I would bend over backward to take the critic and try to make them the biggest mascot.
My way did not work. Not at all.
Today I wonder: is people pleasing holding you back? Moreover: are you letting dissenting voices drag you off your mission?
Back in 1999, there was a student in this class who had captivated people with his troubles. He had no desire to be rid of them- it became clear quickly- but despite the fact that he’d show up drugged in class every day, he managed to pull on the heartstrings of our very famous teacher and somehow he managed to evade expulsion.
The class became all about this very troubled drug addict. It would swallow hours of class. It would consume all of our attention. It would pull focus off of the 99% who were there to expand.
Ultimately, attendance dropped as this man- and all his troubles- stole the spotlight.
We who persisted through this tumultuous period were somewhat hopeful that he’d get sober, have a breakthrough, do something to set our celestial stage back in its glory and restore the power of the group.
In an attempt to help, to please, to be loved by this man, we all, in turn, experienced the drama he experienced. One girl started dating him and became a heroin addict, lopped off all her long blond hair to a crew cut and joined the Army…all out of the blue. It was an unpredictable time.
Now, I don’t say this to say that you shouldn’t help people with troubles.
You should. If they want help. If you can help. We’re here to help each other.
However, if you’re spending your time trying to get everyone to love you, and if you are in a group or a team where even one member has a strong negatively dissenting opinion, you can get held back. Bigtime.
In Japan, in Buddhist philosophy this is the principle of Itai Doshin (many in body, one in mind). We are many in body and one in mind when we are strongest. This means that no matter how different we may all seem, when we are unified in purpose, massive good can happen.
That’s what happened 99% of the time in that class. Itai Doshin. Powerful stuff came from so much unity in mind.
Toss in a dissenting voice and watch the whole class deflate.
Sometimes it would be subtle. You’d just feel the hairline cracks in the energy.
When it was obvious, it was impossible to ignore.
Today, Itai Doshin was explained to me in a beautifully clear way. “If you have 100 people in a room and 99 want to achieve a goal and 1 does not, that 1 can be the reason you don’t succeed.”
We’ll always have people around us who don’t want the same things we do. That’s fine.
The trick is this: don’t let people into the small circles– the groups, the teams, the confidences– that don’t wholeheartedly share in your vision and goals.
I used to tell everyone everything my heart desired, and then I’d spend days defending myself and what I want against the negative voices. I wanted to be liked. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to convince people to believe in my vision.
Are you there?
Are you people-pleasing a bit too much? Are you trying to get support from people with no intention of supporting you?
Ready to let it go?
I promise, if you can drop the people-pleasing and create tight circles of total support, you’ll fly forward.
Now, that’s what I do in every group I create.
It’s what I do in my personal life.
It’s immeasurably easier.
It’s one of the greatest lessons it took decades to learn.
I’m really vigilant about this now.
If you try it, I am willing to bet (and I’m not a gambler) you’ll see how much lighter and easier and more synergistic things can be.
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