Why you shouldn't please everybody
In French, Complacent means “Complaisant”. It could be split into two distinct words from the way they sound, “Con” and “Plaisant”, meaning Stupid and Pleasing, which is not far from the truth. Some people aren’t just complacent, they’re hyper-complacent, and it’s their default mode.
I understand why someone wouldn’t want to tell exactly what they think to someone, why they wouldn’t say no, why they would make so many promises, why they would move around relentlessly to catch the ball, why an investor would avoid hurting the feelings of an entrepreneur, why someone would decide to sugar-coat everything or to be pleasing.
The short-term benefits are obvious, people love you because you are so nice, you’re a dream come true, the perfect friend, the yes-person, a box of extraordinary promises, that omnipresent cool kid in the block. But let’s take a step back for a minute.
From a pleaser's perspective, you’re putting yourself in an irreversible trap:
You’ll never be able to follow all those promises, and many will fall flat. Your kind words that sound comforting and warm will feel empty afterward;
As a yes-person, driven by status rather than conviction, you will become the most ordinary version of yourself;
You will slowly burn your relationships and how much people trust you whenever you share something with them.
If you’re that person being pleased, wake up:
Pleasers are fueling your ego, and even though one can argue they make you feel good, they also put you in a state of delusion;
Especially as an entrepreneur, you’re looking for brutal honesty with good intentions, not fake kindness;
Your pleasers define you. It’s like self-awareness. If it looks like you’re blinded by the light, you will lose credibility.
We are all looking for support and kind words. I crave for it too, and it’s really comforting. But it’s also a reward that should match with our ability to welcome and bluntly accept feedback, to feel and be challenged.
In order to accomplish things, I like to say we need a combination of three things:
People who believe in us. Those who will support us when we feel down, who will make us realize when we’re falling behind expectations, who will give us the means to work on those things (could be money from investors, but also just time from our loved ones).
An engine to start doing and fuel to keep going :) My trigger, for instance, is my competitive mindset, in a field where I feel I can be the very best, it’s not a competition against others necessarily, but more with myself. What fuels that mindset and gives me the motivation to keep going is to be recognized for what I have achieved.
Finally, we need to embrace fear, risk, and pain. It’s by overcoming them that we build up real pleasure and satisfaction.
I see so many entrepreneurs falling into the trap of hyper complacency, from investors telling them what their ego wants to hear, promising the world to them, and making them shiny introductions that are just too soon or, down the line, worthless.
Search for tough love from your investors, not blindless passion. Expect from them brutal honesty with rational compassion, not blindless support. Ask for real perspective, not ordinary thinking. Look for what’s in-depth, not just at the surface.