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4 Reasons It’s Okay To Let People Down



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.

What are some things you have decided to say no to? Share them in the comment section below or on my Facebook and Twitter.

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship.You can connect with Tim through his website



  1. Silvia

    Feb 4, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    This is a great article and to the point. I completely agree with what you wrote. If someone gets upset because you don’t do what they want you to do, it is their problem, not your. We need to live the way we desire not according to others needs. If something like this happen and someone tells me NO, I am trying to get over it very quickly and find the new person or solution as soon as possible. Tim, thank you for sharing this article with us! Love it!

    • Tim Denning

      Feb 6, 2016 at 5:25 am

      Silvia thanks for taking the time to read through the points. I love what you said about moving on to the enxt person as a quick as possible. I do something very similar.

  2. Toño

    Jan 14, 2016 at 5:04 am

    I was loyal to people, events and different tasks for a good part of my life, far too many times it was actually needed. I accepted many things just because I considered myself a good person and did not want to be the one who upset, but help people. The result was my life collapsed in a huge way with a following mental disaster. I’ve lost everything. Loyalty is a good thing but don’t you ever mess it up with the idea of pleasing everyone.

    That is the great topic to think of and yet again I can relate to it. Funny thing, just a few days ago I did upset a colleague at work and was quite upset with thi myself. We are good friends (at least that’s how I see us) and I made a decision she wasn’t agree with. Things a re going well again now, but I realized you have to be conscious about what you do or what you say, you have to be fully aware, from brushing your teeth to hiring/firing person or travelling down the river. You have to knw why you do what you do and you have to enjoy it. And if this will let someone down so be it. You don’t have to be mean but again, quite often, if you like to follow your way, you will inevitably find out not everyone will support and agree with you.

    It will be even harder, if you are the person who loves attention and appreciation. I still experince such feelings from time to time.

    I love the way you explained the idea of stuffing up. I fully agree here as this is in aligment with one of previous article on struggles, when people may dislike you, but if they do, it is nothing to do with you, rather with their own perspective. Exactly the same here, if you messed up, such things happens, everyone makes a mistake, and if this a cause of upset for someone, it is their vision, not yours.

    Your time is valuable, so don’t waste it. You should value and appreciate yourself first, then you can do it wtih other people. It’s awesome feeling when you can help and save the world and be a hero of the day, but should learn to let go, learn to focus on things that matters. Otherwise you will be an eternal prisoner of society. Find your way and be authentic, patient and conscious.

    Enjoyed this article, Tim, thank you so much for it! I still thinking of finding the right balance though as I do not want to scare all people around me. I think we should help when we can, bring passion and humanity, but again, just feel when we do it because of our honest intentions and sense of purpose or just in elusive attempt to please someone.

    • Tim Denning

      Jan 15, 2016 at 8:20 am

      Toño thanks for the in-depth insight you have provided. A lot of your points resonate with me also. The need for appreciation from others is always a hard want to overcome. It becomes an addictive sense of validation. The only person that should validate you; is you. Chat soon.

      • Toño

        Jan 16, 2016 at 3:18 am

        ‘The only person that should validate you; is you.’ Wise words, Tim. Yesterday I’ve got the opportunity to learn this exact lesson! I was very upset at first but then realization has come: people may never understand my actions, do not accept me or even judge me as that’s their choice, but my decisions should not be based on their apporoval and if I don’t fit into society expectations, I should not worry about it.

        Thank you Tim for your feedback, have a great day and will talk soon!

        • Tim Denning

          Jan 16, 2016 at 4:45 am

          No problem Toño. Stay on the path you are on, I can see you starting to get the results you have always wanted!

  3. Stephen Osoko

    Jan 12, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Great Post!

    • Tim Denning

      Jan 13, 2016 at 4:04 am

      Thanks so much Stephen.

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