One of the biggest struggles of everyday life is the fear of letting people down. We all want to impress our friends, colleagues or boss’s and be able to meet their every request – the reality is you can’t. That’s why you need to change your thinking about how you deal with all the requests you get.
Success is not about keeping everyone happy it’s about focusing your time and energy on the things that make you happy and that you are passionate about. The tasks that you do say yes to should be directly aligned with your purpose and everything else should be secondary.
To achieve any significant success, you need to be disciplined and not get distracted. If you don’t start getting used to letting people down, then you are going to experience what I am going through right now. In my own life, I have said yes to lots of tasks and very few of them align with my purpose.
After listening to Derek Sivers being interviewed by Tim Ferriss, I have decided only to say yes to things that make me say “Hell Yes.” If the request doesn’t meet this criteria or I have to think about it too long then from now on I am saying no and you should do.
Below are my four reasons why it’s okay to let people down.
1. There are times when you stuff up
Part of accepting that you are going to let people down is acknowledging that you will stuff up. What I mean by this is that you will agree to do something and then completely mess it up. Now I have a great example of this to share with you.
Recently I interviewed a well-known entrepreneur and the interview went pretty well. A few days later I went to listen back to the interview and discovered that due to an update with my Apple software, the auto-record button was not selected and so nothing got recorded.
I mean I studied sound engineering for four years and I stuffed up the most basic rule of recording. Yes, I am an idiot and yes I was overloaded at the time. I had a decision to make so I went back to the interviewee and told them the honest truth and gave them three possible solutions to fix it. The option they chose was for me to write an article off another interview they did.
So, one weekend, I gave it a crack and discovered that it just wasn’t working and I had to do the interview again (quality is important and it’s not worth compromising). Needless to say, the interviewee who was previously very responsive, stopped replying to me via all communication channels.
So the lesson here is quite simple; as much as you can be an expert in something there are times when you are going to stuff up. It happens to all of us and if you upset someone because of it, then that’s a problem on their side, not yours. It’s okay and there is always a lesson to be learnt.
2. You can’t satisfy every request
Between working with fast-moving tech companies, my own person interests, blogging, etc. I don’t physically have the time to say yes to everyone. This also goes for you too! I am now starting to use more of a gut feeling and if I find a decision about saying yes is taking too long, then I now say no.
This is because I have noticed that when we overthink something, it’s usually because it doesn’t directly align with our purpose or because we don’t want to let someone down. Lately, I have been getting lots of requests via social media to do articles, interviews, events and so on.
One recent request I had was to do an interview for another website. I like to give every request a look into and be respectful of the other person for taking the time to contact me. When I researched the website, I saw that it was covered in spelling errors and that the subject of choice was not something I was an expert on. For these reasons I declined.
The other person was quite upset with me but I realised that even though you want to keep all of your fans happy you just can’t. I have said yes to a few social media requests recently and that’s because they were aligned with my passion and what I want to be known for.
In your personal life or business, you should look at saying no and letting people down in a similar way.
“Ask yourself, is this request something that will help fulfil me and bring me a step closer to my vision?”
3. Other people say no all the time
Don’t feel guilty about letting people down as other people do it all the time. In fact, they probably do it more than you. This doesn’t mean that you should always let people down and not care, but it does mean that on those few rare occasions when you do, it’s okay.
One attribute that I have seen and respected with a lot of successful people is their ability to say no and not be apologetic about it. You have to start to believe that your time is just as important as a worldwide celebrities time.
With this belief, you also have to come to grips with the fact that perfection in whatever you are trying to achieve will never happen. Other people are not perfect and neither are you. Other people say no and it’s okay for you to do the same in a respectful way (don’t be rude about it ever).
4. The other person may not be committed
Commitment is something that you should consider before you let someone down. Ask yourself, is the other person really committed to the task you are being asked to do? Without overdoing the stories I have about my interview escapades, recently another interview for Addicted2Success fell over.
I was 100% committed to it and did all my preparation. The first time I dialled into Skype and the other person did not show up. I waited for twenty minutes and then disconnected the call and sent a polite email. This same scenario then happened two more times in a matter of weeks.
I then had to make a decision, do I keep trying to do the interview or do I not proceed any further? When looking at the situation, I realised that clearly the person was not that interested in doing the interview as each time they just forgot and there wasn’t a good reason.
When commitment is lacking it’s okay to let people down and walk away. You are doing them a favour and they just don’t have the heart to tell you that they don’t want to work together with you.