The Benefits of Pissing People Off

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard (source: uberzombie)

Right alongside the cash and credit cards, I keep a number of strange things in my wallet.

The largest is a folded-up page from the July 6, 2009 issue of Fortune magazine. In a profile, Scott Boras, widely regarded as the most powerful agent in professional baseball, describes a dinner with one of his mentors after a record-breaking contract:

“He said that if you are really effective at what you do, 95% of the things said about you will be negative. Keep your head on straight, don’t get emotional, take the heat, and just make sure your clients are smiling.”

Doing anything remotely interesting will bring criticism. Attempting to do anything large-scale and interesting will bring armies of detractors and saboteurs. This is fine – if you are willing to take the heat.

There are good reasons to be willing, even eager.

Colin Powell makes the case: pissing people off is both inevitable and necessary. This doesn’t mean that the goal is pissing people off. Pissing people off doesn’t mean you’re doing the right things, but doing the right things will almost inevitably piss people off.

Understand the difference.

Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.

Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions. It’s inevitable, if you’re honorable. Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity: you’ll avoid the tough decisions, you’ll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted, and you’ll avoid offering differential rewards based on differential performance because some people might get upset.

Ironically, by procrastinating on the difficult choices, by trying not to get anyone mad, and by treating everyone equally “nicely” regardless of their contributions, you’ll simply ensure that the only people you’ll wind up angering are the most creative and productive people in the organization. (full presentation here)

Don’t go through life with kid gloves on. The stakes are too high, and it is oftentimes more important to give people what they need, rather than what they want.

This includes ourselves. By facing the fire early and often, we ensure the confidence and breathing room later to do bigger and better things.

Or to just sit back in a hammock with the peace of mind that only comes with belief that you did your best.

Be criticized for doing small “safe” things, or be criticized for doing big things that you’re passionate about. That is the choice. The criticism will come either way, whether in the form of self-talk (the former) or ankle biters (the latter).

Let the critics criticize. It’s the builders who count.

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241 Replies to “The Benefits of Pissing People Off”

  1. Dear Tim,

    I’ve been a reader of yours since I came across your TED speech and have enjoyed your ideas ever since.

    Recently, I’ve been thinking about my greatest weakness – the imprecise, yet paralyzing, fear of failure. A big part of this fear is the classic dilemma: “what will people think?”. It’s mostly absurd anxieties of which I am fully aware, but unfortunately, being aware of them doesn’t automatically cure this illness.

    I was wandering if you, or any of your great readers has any ideas for “tools” to get people started, to make them do the first step. I know that micro experiments are a great solution, but what I find difficult is even deciding to undergo them.

    I know that the “just do it” motto is the best answer, but I seem to get overinvolved in preparation.

    PS I think that my fear of failure/being judged is strongly linked with the idea of trying to please everyone.

  2. Thank you Tim for another stellar post! Other people’s opinions have quickly become the last thing that I consider when looking at a new opportunity. They are too busy thinking of reasons they can’t do it, not me. They could care less about my situation. Eagerly awaiting the new book bro. Been a “4 Hour Work Week” disciple for some time now and everyone I give the book to loves it. Happy travels!!

  3. So true. People are always wanting to project their insecurities and suffering onto others. I was puzzled whenever I saw a negative review of the 4HWW because the reviewers just highlighted their inability to implement the ideas in it.

  4. Just be careful with this one. An effective leader will inevitably piss people off but I’ve met too many folks who think that pissing people off is a sign that you are leading well. *Not* the same thing!

  5. “Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions.”

    If you’re clear on where the group is going, and are able to express it to the group and get them excited about it, they will not be angry when tough decisions need to be made. They will KNOW that everything is done with the sole focus on reaching the goal.

    This is the case when an organization is small and has an incredible amount of open communication. Groups should not grow larger unless this kind of communication can grow with it.

  6. Hey Tim,

    This sort of thing is useless unless you also define what sort of criticism you are prepared to accept or consider valid. The idea that 95% of your publicity being negative is not indicative of anything being a problem is silly. Sometimes, even often, 95% of people saying the same thing is a pretty strong indicator that they’re right.

    In the case of Boras, his situation is a little different, and his advice valid, because he acts as an agent for his players. So if they’re happy (“just make sure your clients are smiling”) that’s the more important metric, and he’s more likely to be doing his job. But many people who cite his advice are bloggers, writers, etc. who are in a completely different position.

  7. Thanks Tim! I’ve always been someone who tried to be kind to everyone and I do realize that, at times, people who are doing all the work (myself most of the time) will get very discouraged and pissed because no one else is picking up the slack…mainly because they aren’t feeling the need due to the kind words I share.

    I’ll sure make an attempt to piss more people off 😉

    Jason

  8. When what we want to do is extraordinary, people tend to look down on what we do. Especially coworkers that are comfortable in their situations tend to see extraordinary actions from us to be a knock against their comforts and tend to push back negatively.

    I’ve found this especially true with personal friends that know that their current situation in life is not where they want to be.

    Keep your cool, mind your own business and carry on!

  9. Interesting article, although I would prefer more content.

    I recall an Oprah Episode where she was interviewing Tiger Woods. They both talked about how the hardest part of success is that you often have to leave your friends behind at each level of success. I thought about friends that I left behind over the years by pissing them off. I did not actually do anything to piss them off other than achieve my own dreams.

    For Example:

    -When they were bumming around jobless, I decided to go to University = Pissed off a group of friends

    – When my University friends were looking for jobs, I decided to start my own company = Pissed off friends

    – When others rent, I own

    Blah blah blah, the point is that yes, pleasing yourself will indeed make you happier than trying to please others. When you leave one group of your peers behind, you will find another that has more in common with you than the past.

    K

  10. Good post. It’s important to remember if you do things beyond the ordinary you will stand out from the crowd. And those are the ones who get shot at.

    The choice is not whether everyone will like you or not. The choice you make is who will like you. Make sure the ones who like you are the people who are important to you.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  11. Well, I must be doing really well then considering how many people I tend to piss off 😉

    Seriously, its great point. Most people, myself included, are governed by what others think and this limits their ability to “break free” from the herd mentality.

    The successes we usually see around us are often those who know they need to kill a few scared cows or challenge conventional wisdom to stand out and make an impact.

    It takes a thick skin….which you’ve clearly got Tim, but can result in extraordinary achievement.

    Do you have any strategies for ignoring the criticism, not questioning yourself and ‘sticking to the plan”?

  12. Spot on, Tim. I going through a lot of this right now from friends and family that think I’m just “lazy” for not having a job and don’t seem to understand the idea of automated income.

    Hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

  13. Perfect timing with this post. A message I needed to hear. I recently took a new job that requires me to bring organization, where there was none. It involves changing the way people work and getting divergent groups of people to work together. I work in higher ed… so change is not widely embraced.

    I have been spending way too much time making friends and in-roads, that I believe are necessary. But, now I’m itching to start changing things in a radical nature. I’ve been holding back… not wanting to risk my popularity by pushing things too hard. I call it the “golden child syndrome.” Whenever you start a new job at a new organization… everyone thinks your the great answer to their problems. However, if I can not facilitate change… I just become part of the status quo (the problem).

    Thanks for the wake up call!

  14. Dear Tim:

    Love what you just said. It comes as a great reminder to keep doing and do not worry about the rest. People will be doing what people do. You are doing what you are supposed to do.

    You cannot control the outside. You are only in control of yourself. I guess it goes back to trying to satisfy everybody. It’s impossible. Therefore inevitably some people will not like what you are doing. So why bother about worrying?

    It is just important to stay on your path, believe in yourself and just know that what you are doing is what is the best for you. Then others will just fade to the background and you will be able to focus on any task at hand.

    Best,

    Tomas

  15. I have checked in to your site everyday since the last post…………i just want in on the action once the new one is up; anyway, it paid off

    nice post; its a childish act to want to please everybody…………i had to snap out of it. so, just snap out of it period

  16. Well said!

    A sure way not to go far in life is worrying about what others are saying about you.

    However that does not mean that the opinions of those who do matter should be ignored.

  17. According to a Robert Redford movie, Native American tribes measured their greatness by the strength of their enemies. The stronger the enemies, the stronger the tribe.

  18. Great post!

    This is so true. Any attempt to do something amazing will bring up jealousy, anger and resentment – but you gotta let it slide (even though it’s hard).

    As Bill Cosby so wisely said: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

  19. Awesome post. Reminds me of something my Dad would preach to me as a kid…

    “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard

    People have to lose the “Teddy Bear” personality. When it comes down to it, most people are afraid because of fear. A trick is called Pre-Acceptance of Failure; expecting the worst outcome or the harshest criticism, and being ok with that. By practicing this, you won’t think twice while making big decisions or pissing people off.

    But, like Colin Powell pointed out, most people want to be “safe”. They want to be liked by everyone and avoid tough decisions, which cultivates mediocrity.

  20. It is so true that when you are doing things “right” often times it is completely different than what everyone else is doing. But, by the time they catch on it is usually to late an they missed the bandwagon again. Typically, this cycle repeats itself. I like to think of the things everyone else isn’t doing and see which ones of those ideas and concepts have a chance of succeeding. If 1 in 10 of those ideas work you probably have accomplished more than 95% of your peers.

  21. Thanks for the this…it’s a “think big” mentality…your work keeps challenging the status quo, and keeps being spot on…and for that matter keeps making people mad. Be real, differential, selective ignorance, find shortcuts, everything popular is wrong…thanks for living the message. I right there with you.

  22. Chamillionaire’s Good Morning is my new favorite song for precisely the reasons you point out. If you don’t have haters, you’re not doing it right.

    “I want to show all of my haters love (hey!)

    This song’s for you (this song’s for you)

    If you had it like me and I was in your shoes

    I’d probably hate on me too ….

    I wanna show all my haters love

    So I’d wave to you like

    Good Mornin

    Ha- ha- ha- ha- haters

    Good Mornin

    Ha- ha- ha- ha- haters

    They said we couldn’t do it (do it) but we already did it (did it)

    I’m fresh outfitted, and my Benz got kitted

    Cuz I get-get-did it and you did-did-didn’t

    If you know you a hater, then this is dedicated to you

    You hatin my last move i’m way on my next move

    See… they hate to see you be successful”

  23. Hey Tim, I agree, to be successful you need to be controversial. I was hoping this article would be a lot longer–bringing in some examples of how you’ve titled your book “4 Hour Work Week” and made people irate.

    Anyone who is big gets hated on b/c people are jealous and b/c that person has stepped out of the realm of ordinary and done something remarkable. Quite literally the word remarkable means to make a remark about–whether it’s good or bad, thats how you generated so much buzz!

  24. Tim:

    All true points! This describes brands, politicians and pretty much everything in between.

    We live in an age of invidious comparison, where I can only win if you lose. Further, we all see too many examples of success without accomplishment, particularly in Hollywood and Silicon Valley. We all want it quickly and look down on anyone who seems to be getting it faster than we are.

    It also captures the politics of our age in the US. George W Bush was and is hated for making hard decisions. Barack Obama is afraid to offend anyone, even our enemies, and as a result, the magic that swept him into office is now gone. He offends through his missteps, not through his choices.

    Here’s to making tough decisions! Thanks for a provocative post.

  25. Make sure you keep it the right way round, though – just because you’re pissing people off doesn’t mean you’re doing good work!

    I used to work for a boss who believed that the more people who hated you, the better you were doing your job. He was a pig of a man, horrible to work for, and certainly didn’t get anywhere near the potential out of his staff.

    That aside, you make a good point. Trying to please everyone just leads to mediocrity.

  26. Removing emotion from business is one of the many lessons I have learned over this past year. It’s easy to avoid criticism when you play a small game, but I’ve realized that a big part of the process when you are going from small to big, is gaining the strength to continue to listen to the voice inside, rather than the voices on the outside.

    Sheila

  27. This was in a similar vain to an article I wrote recently, “10 Reasons to Love Criticism” (yes, that was a shameless plug) but it’s still nice to be reminded of what’ll happen if you try to do anything remotely cool or worth doing.

    Another perspective I wrote about is “Everything You Do is Wrong.” You touch on the idea a bit, but basically, no matter what you do in life, even saving the lives of 50 orphans from a burning building, someone will say you’re doing or did the wrong thing.

    After I realized that it just became a matter of listening to my intuition when it came to making decisions. Someone will think I’m wrong no matter what, so I may as well do what’s most agreeable with myself.

    And this quote from the Dalai Lama also tied in quite nicely:

    “Do your best and do it according to your own inner standard (call it conscience), not just according to society’s knowledge and judgment.”

  28. So true, when launching my first venture out of graduate school many of my friends and family suggested I go get a “real job.” 4 months later I have a stable income that would have met or probably exceeded any “real job.” I believe the more haters you have the closer you are to a really good idea.

  29. Great post Tim

    This reminds me of a few lessons:

    1. You can’t go through life by making everybody happy…unless you enjoy having a sh1tty life.

    2. No good deed goes unpunished. – Ergo every bad deed has some form of reward?

  30. Detractors can come in all shapes and sizes: I haven’t encountered any significant resistance to most of my opinions, but many people do convince themselves what I’ve done is a fluke and that they couldn’t possibly do the same (usually out loud, too, which tends to be a little uncomfortable for everyone involved).

    The point is that negativity isn’t always directed at you, but instead can be directed at the message you are spreading, or even aimed at stemming the flow of influence you’re spreading just be existing.

    As far as I know, the best way to deal with this is just to encourage where you can, help where you’re able and otherwise just keep doing what you’re doing; if they’re meant to come around, they will.

  31. Thanks for this post!

    At younger age, I always wanted to become this popular and successfull guy that everyone liked, and no one would ever argue with. Life has learned me that this is not possible. Creating a happy and successfull life for yourself can not be done without anyone criticising you or are negative to your journey. That’s life, suck it up and get through it, and later you can look back at it as a life lesson learned.

  32. Agreed. There is always so much friction when you try to do something different or new. I think the most important thing to do is listen to your heart and live through it. Some people won’t understand.

    “As they say in Italy these days … ‘Take off the white gloves.'” (Public Enemies, J. Hoover)

  33. Another angle on this concept is to protect yourself. Sometimes the detractors are people who are business partners who no longer wish to see you succeed. I am learning (still) be very clear in my dealings with people because certian detractors are able to file lawsuits. In cases like that, pissing someone else can cost you a lawsuit. Nothing you can do to prevent people who wish to take things that far, just make sure you are thoughtful as you plan your next moves in your life.

  34. Thanks for the reminder Tim.

    Seth Godin says: “What people are afraid of isn’t failure. It’s blame. Criticism.”

    Seth has a great blog post regarding critics and criticism. He has two and a half questions you should ask when making a decision.

    1. “If I get criticized for this, will I suffer any measurable impacts? Will I lose my job, get hit upside the head with a softball bat or lose important friendships?” If the only side effect of the criticism is that you will feel bad about the criticism, then you have to compare that bad feeling with the benefits you’ll get from actually doing something worth doing…..”

    You can see the other 1 and a half questions on his blog:

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2005/05/on_critics_crit.html

  35. I think at least half the time people lash out with negativity because they are jealous and ashamed of there lack of drive to succeed or accomplish similar things.

    There’s always a blessing in disguise and I like to think that going against the grain and causing a little friction is one of life’s many blessings!

    Good post Tim!

    Mike

  36. Criticism often comes out of jealousy and/or laziness. Secure people who’re too busy accomplishing awesome things don’t have the time nor inclination to take petty potshots. I’d conservatively say 99% of the criticism I’ve seen has been worthless, and I prize the useful, actionable, so-called “constructive” criticism. Now, a critic will be quick to say: “You’re arrogant!” without any unfounded basis, and having nothing to do. So, you must have a gift for prizing the critics who CAN help you.

    Related to this topic, I recommend reading To Criticize Is To Publicize, a PDF I created with ChangeThis about how to keep moving effectively, even if potshots come your way: http://bit.ly/critpub

  37. Tim….what the heck…..you havent posted in ages……..what adventures have you been partaking in?

    It pisses me off that I checked the blog every few days for a month to find nothing new. Theres noway im gonna read your book for the 300th time to get a few Ferrisisms. Jeeze-louise.

  38. Tim,

    Great post. And it’s certainly well taken for all those times we deal with detractors.

    I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on deliberately avoiding criticism as a smart lifestyle choice, rather than embracing it as a signal you’re a good leader and innovator. In particular, for you, why go into publishing and have to deal with the public’s criticism, when you could have simply continued your businesses in relative, peaceful obscurity?

    I’m with Epicurus that public discord (politics) should be avoided where ever possible because it’s counterproductive from the ultimate goal – peace of mind and happiness. Sure, you can learn to ignore criticism, and even see it as a positive signal…but at the end of the day, why deal with it at all when it’s possible to avoid it completely and live a nice, happy life?

    The choice to embrace criticism to do big things vs. shunning criticism to have an anonymous, happy life strikes me as similar to the choice between starting a billion dollar business and starting a lifestyle company.

    1. David, this is a great question, and I’m a big Epicurus fan. The answer: I ultimately felt I could have the greatest impact out in the world with the book and what has led from it. It’s definitely not a postponed-goal like the hypothetical IPO, however, as I am lucky enough to see the results every day.

      Hope that helps,

      Tim

  39. This is a exercise in trying to reach the unreachable. I want to talk to you, Tim Ferris!! If you’re reading this, please, for the love of curiousity, e-mail me back after you’ve read this plea for help! I’m on my freetime-loving, bended knees, here. I am so close to utter mobility and your NR (or “double R” as I call it: the “Real Rich”)lifestyle, I can taste it. In brief, I’m a physical therapist and I designed a super hip, green, ergonomic effective workstation and need 10 minutes of your OEM 101 advice. As I put on my e-backpack and get ready to look around on the internet for OEM’s, if I’m looking at other countries, how do I find trustworthy liaisons?

    I’ve bought your book, and the book on cd. I swim laps daily to your book on CD in my waterproof mp3 player. So help me get to the island of Crete to give tours in English at the ruins of Knossos for 5 months a year by telling me, in a few sentences or less, how to find the best OEM and website designer to begin “Project 100% Outsourcing” on the production and distribution of my “DPT Workstation” (Designed by Physical Therapist). If I build it, it may e-volutionize every living room, hotel room, dorm room, and maybe even libraries and at-home office. It’s good and much-needed, as my 10 years of treating patients with the same, computer related orthopedic issues, is a testament. I just need a good, off shore OEM with an internal design team. Any words of advice, Captain?

    1. Hi Jeannie,

      Thanks for the comment! If you’re referring to Original Equipment Manufacturing — effectively contract manufacturing — I’d suggest http://www.alibaba.com as a starting point. Chinese consulates or trade commissions can also help, as that is your most likely country for cost-effective manufacture.

      Good luck and see you in Crete 🙂

      Tim

  40. Tim, thanks for this post. I was just stewing over this very issue tonight thinking of how to handle an issue at work. Perfect timing. If you get the time to post more info about this topic, I’d love it.

  41. Crazy. I saw this in my reader after reading Nice is Overrated (http://www.philosophypress.co.uk/?p=861) about Socrates and House. It’s not exactly the same thing but close. It reminded me of the wisdom you’ve gleaned from Seneca. I can’t speak from experience (well, maybe a smidge), but it certainly seems like a hell of a way to live. I would set this article to the tune of “Pork and Beans” from Weezer. Cheers!

  42. This is something I think our entire generation (20s, 30s) are wrestling with. At some point we picked up a value that being liked or not upsetting people is most important. With this we tend to also fear, or at least avoid, confrontation. The result? Horrible negotiators and sub-par businesspeople. Thanks for the reminder Tim.

    Dan Johnston.

  43. Had an off topic question as well if you’d be willing to answer (or maybe this is a future post).

    How do you go about generating ideas for your blog?

    Thanks

  44. I love how everyone blindly posts : Great Post! Whaa! Amazing, Groundbreaking stuff TIM!!!

    Please.

    Tim, your content is great (I don’t think you need a random idiot on the internet like myself to tell you that) but this post was pretty weak in my opinion. At first glance it seems like you’ve been so busy to write on a well researched/articulated subject..that you just scribbled some inspirational poppycock with little substance.

    Then again, thats just my opinion. Why should you listen to me 🙂

  45. If I had to hazard a guess as to what inspired this post, I would guess the recent highly publicized criticism of some of the nutrition and training gurus of CrossFit.

  46. Nicely said, thanks! This last comment really hit home:

    “Be criticized for doing small “safe” things, or be criticized for doing big things that you’re passionate about.”

    Looking forward to hearing Powell’s presentation.

    Have a great weekend!

  47. I definitely agree with your post although this is one of those things where if A then almost always B but if B then sometimes A. Where A = being a great leader/doing great things and B = pissing people off/being criticized. – Joel

  48. OT: Potential topic for future article…

    I did a small AdWords test and made some sales so subsequently invested additional time/effort/money into my muse. It now seems that the initial success was an anomaly. My clickthrough rate is awesome, bounce rate and page views respectable and getting better all the time, but my conversion is awful. My landing pages are relevant to my ads, and while I’m sure the design could be tweaked and improved there seems to be a more critical issue at hand than that.

    I’m not sure whether to be patient and keep trying to learn with this product line – perhaps testing price points more thoroughly – or whether I should cut my losses and bail, chalking it up to a poor choice of industry/product line (competitive, saturated, etc.).

    Any thoughts or advice? Or interest in addressing such challenges in a future article?

    Thanks.

  49. Tim,

    Excellent post. Sometimes in life when you do things that make a difference you come up against people who disagree, who deny what you are doing is right – it’s a fact of life that those who make a difference in this world will always have others who say that they are not doing things right – but when it comes down to it – the person that gets things done usually make the best leaders.

    Thanks.

  50. Caring what people think too much is the biggest reason why people don’t achieve great things. Caring about what they will think if you fail is the number one reason people do not become rich – Felix Dennis

    When you can stand still in the middle of the dancefloor with your eyes closed, you are close.

  51. “If my inner voice believes in something, I will follow my inner voice, even if I the whole world is against it.” – M K Gandhi (these are not his exact words, but my vague recollection.). I believe in it. At the least, you are not left with any regrets later on in life.

  52. Thanks for your post. I thought about that yesterday, I didn’t do a lot of things cause the criticism, but I working on it. Really thanks for you book, it changed my mind.

    Thanks from Geneva, Switzerland

  53. Often pissing people off is about saying ‘no’.

    Often saying ‘no’ is about harmonizing with your inner compass therefore the ‘no’ has nothing to do with the other personally.

    But there is a natural care in framing and delivering the ‘no’ because it comes from a place of response not reaction.

    This is an art and a process, so like any other skill it can be refined.

    Criticism and abuse are two words that can often be substituted for each other. Sometimes abuse can be cleverly disguised inside criticism, but a refined inner awareness can sense it. Someone abusing you should be an emotional reaction after an alarming event. When language or action turns nasty you have obviously crossed a line in the last 5 minutes and probably deserve a reaction; hence making the others boundary visible. Or nothing has happened and they’re just hunting you to bring you down. You can see the hunter via the vocabulary. There is a meanness in the criticism. If your ego doesn’t take it personally you can see it for what it is – a shark looking for a feed. And just by seeing it for what it is, changes your emotional reaction into something much more appropriate.

  54. Absolutely true: criticism is a constant partner in everyone’s life; you don’t need to be doing great things to be criticized, you get criticism as soon as you do *anything*. But, as others have pointed out the most important thing is learning to ignore useless criticism and to accept good one.

    About David’s comment on Epicurus: I agree that public discord should be avoided when possible for the ultimate goal of a happy and peaceful life, but what does “when possible” mean?

    Besides, I do not consider criticism an obstacle in the path toward such ultimate goal: it is either irrelevant noise (bad criticism) or an opportunity, and thus more a suggestion (good criticism). It is really easier to try and avoid any criticism than learning to consider it for what it is?

    Forgive me if I am not clear in what I say, I am not an Enlish mothertongue.

    PS: for more interesting quotations on criticism:

    http://www.quotationspage.com/subjects/criticism/

  55. Very good reminder. I think that people at 40s have struggled even more with being too kind, at least here on northern Europe. Our culture is very inclined to kindness and obedience. Wayne; thanks for great advice how to deal with guilt feeling of being assertive/selfish.

  56. I had a chance to see Colin Powell speak two weeks ago.

    Its funny because the first time you get criticized for doing something different it makes you think about not doing it. The 100th time you get criticized, it makes you want to do it more.

    Great post Tim

  57. It’s great to read how many people responded positively to this excellent article.

    For every post that cautions against controversy (“Just be careful with this one”, “public discord (politics) should be avoided”), there are at least five with uplifting messages about overcoming self-doubt and the insecurities of others.

    Nice job, Tim.

  58. Pissing people off in itself isn’t detrimental. The problem comes in when you intentionally set out to make someone mad. Of course “stirring the pot” in politics and the like is a very effective way to gain support.

  59. Hello,

    I’m sure you’re tired of gushing accolades, but I wanted to contact you and at least say something.

    While killing time at a bookstore in Canada before yet another J.O.B. interview yesterday I picked up your book and started flipping through. I admit I hadn’t heard of you or the book before, but more and more things seem to be coming into my awareness in recent years. Although a few years older than yourself, your brief biography and timeline struck so many chords with frustrations that have haunted me my entire life, such as the inadequacy of the current “learn by rote and pretend to be a good student” education system, redundant and inefficent job routines, the absolute lunacy of every single sales job boiling down to the same ineffective “pound the pavement and dial for dollars” mantra, and above all the crushing herd mentality which completely stifles any attempt to break the paradigm.

    Without jealousy or envy, I rejoice in the fact that you were able to break free of ther herd, unlike myself who has let my limiting beliefs and fear trap me in the land of the walking dead.

    I intend to read every word you have written and keep my mind completely open in hope of examining and changing my perecptions and beliefs. I am still plagued by fear that I have too many responsibilities to risk change, but I am hoping to be able to let those go for good. I am also going to ensure each of my teenagers receives a copy of your book for Christmas along with the advice that they never take anyone else’s word about what is good for them.

    I apologize for the wordiness. Happy Thanksgiving and I hope your word works miracles for everyone it reaches.

  60. Hi,

    I will be honest, I haven’t had the pleasure of reading your book yet, but after this post, I most certainly am reading it.

    Completely agree with you, I have had a taste of what you talk about and feel proud of myself for sticking to my guns and following my passion no matter what. This doesn’t mean I don’t care about people. On the contrary, It is because I care that I must lead.

    Thank you,

    Anna Aparicio

  61. Hi Tim – what a refreshing article and for me timely. We are growing our business and along with the growth come the “growing pains”. Over the past few weeks, many of the pains have been a bit sharp! I am taking heart from what you say – we definitely aren’t setting out to upset anyone but equally we don’t want to settle for second best just because we can’t keep everyone happy. We have big plans, we are big guys, and we can take a bit of heat – but it’s good to feel a bit of positive energy coming back through the universe sometimes. Thanks 🙂

  62. Excellent points Tim, however I think it is beneficial to temper this philosophy by noting that it is still important to be nice. Be honourable, as our esteemed host suggests, don’t be ruthless and piss people of for the sake of it; I have come across too many people in business who automatically assume that if they have got people’s back’s up; they have done the right thing.

    Reijo- there is nothing wrong with a culture of kindness. This only becomes a problem when the greater good is disregarded in favour of political correctness. In other words, sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

    Kris- Your (former) friends sound unpleasant. I truly believe that for most of us, pleasing ourselves comes (at least in part) from pleasing and helping others. There IS a happy medium to be found. We can be highly successful and take others along for the ride, genuine and concrete ethical values are what’s required. Sticking to these values will piss people off on occasion, but it is those people from whom criticism should be like water off a duck’s back.

    Thank you and goodnight (please criticise accordingly).

  63. My dad always says, “nobody kicks a dead dog”. If you are doing something, it’ll inevitably upset someone. Thanks for taking all the heat you have to do the right thing, and keep doing what you are doing.

  64. Love the article but think the timing of releasing an article about pissing people off wasn’t so good. It’s Thanksgiving Day – at least in the US. I imagine with your international perspective, that might not be high on your radar screen! LOL!

  65. It is incredbile that some people (including myself sometimes) are inclined and worried to take action on our principles because we are worried about what somebody else is going to think of us.

    It’s great to see this post. It’s important that we stick to our principles and express ourselves and our feelings otherwise the ultimate result extra stress and pressure on our mental and physical bodies.

  66. I was lucky to be raised by parents who taught me this lesson early, and I’ve benefited from it.

    But there is another side to the same coin which my parents didn’t teach me, and I regret certain experiences I had before I learned the second lesson:

    Social graces and self-awareness must be a component of one’s daily life, because when one acts boldly there is a higher risk that others (who uphold the status quo) will feel disrespected or abandoned.

    Creating an atmosphere of support, collaboration, and solidarity is not the same as “wanting to please people” or “avoiding criticism.” It’s about team building and sympathy.

    My favorite people are the leaders and pioneers who make others feel important and respected. It’s a great combination.

  67. Your post is likely to be mis-interpeted by people who don’t look deeply into the issue you raise.

    Nothing, is more important to me then to have comraderie ,respect , and trust with my clients and colleagues. If I am walking over one group to please the other, then I lose.

    Pissing people off because you are encountering resistance to change….is one thing. However being cruel, vicous, and mean to reach an end is another thing. There is an old yiddish saying….”there is fine line between honesty and cruelty”.

  68. Here’s a bit of criticism for you: There’s no better way to piss people off than to be a critic yourself. So let your admirers admire. It’s the critics who build.

  69. thanks for this post Tim… I needed the reasurance that sometimes what I do must not always aim to please everyone…

    I supose that is where neiche comes from, poeple buying into something they like, and others nearly spewing at the thought of being anything to do with it…

    I have found more recently the less I am trying to please others the more they seem to let me get on with my job… it’s become more about getting the job done and not getting overly worried about what may go wrong…

    great post and some cracking comments as well…

    I trust I have pissed someone off out there for this comment though.. lol

  70. @ Bart

    Hi Bart, I use a technique called TFT to get rid of my fears of anything really… fear of failure and pleasing other people being the largest that I dealt with…

    there are loads of great tools and techniques out there… a good thing to do is find someone who has achived great things and research them, find out how they thing and act… that may help a little (or loads cos you are lucky)…

    hope that helps.. (I just had two fears kick in there, infact three in a flash,… will this sound cheeky, will tim let this post online (lol), is my spelling OK (I am dyslexic and always have this fear crop up)… more and more… it’s more thinking all the time instead of just taking action that stops people… a great responce that I have learned from the best masters are to repeat into your head (or out loud if you really feel like it)… when a problem comes up and you think things like, but what if I piss her/him off… what if i get sacked, what if she leaves me… you return the comment… SO WHAT… just to remind your subconsious that it’s all futile if you were to be told you had days to live… what would really matter?

    just a few ideas @BART, hope it’s not to loony tunes…

    have a great day folks…

  71. Thanks for the post ! Seems like ideas are travelling along earth very quickly because it arrives right on time for me to use and apply to my own life. I think this might even be the biggest challenge of my whole life… dare to be criticized !!!

    Oh…. and thanks for your book as well, even though up to recently, I knew it was a great book but i couldn’t find the strength to apply what i just learned.

  72. One of my favorite quotes is: “He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.” The pull to “be liked” is enticing indeed. Whenever I have made decisions based on this philosophy, which I have plenty of times, the criticism has been rampant. Great post and thanks for the reminder!

  73. Hi Tim,

    Great article. Part of the job of leader is to speak from and lead from the edge. The edge may anger, scare or piss off the masses, even when most of the masses know – suspect – feel that the leader really is right.

    A mentor of mine years ago asked me if I would be able to handle it when my coaching clients got pissed at me… when they got what they were seeking, or when they got something better than that.

    Often we assume that what we want “out there” will make us happy, fulfilled, satisfied, and when we discover that it is “the same – but different — improved yet not perfect” we get pissed.

    Thank you for being real, and being you.

    Mr Twenty Twenty

    That guy who really changed his name to the number of perfect vision, because YOU living your vision perfectly matters.

  74. To get past anything that bothers you the way is always the same – drag it into the head lamps of reality instead of leaving it lingering around in the shadows of personal emotion, biased view and personal experience. There is nothing more refreshing and mind-soothing than to see the things the way they are… it´s just hard for us to do ;-).

    If possible, take physical action towards resolving the issue/reaching the goal – whatever. No matter how small or minor – just take at least one action towards your goal each day. Do not “overthink” but rather set the course by creating physical results.

    Creating solid results will always piss of people because you do what others cannot or seem to cannot do. Not feeling good about be criticized it is even more a natural process. We are herd animals and everyone subconsciously lives with the fear of rejection from our “herd”, “group” because it used to be vital to stay in your herd.

    You can however overwrite this concern if you can convince your system that there are more people that benefit from what you do than there are people that reject what you are doing.

  75. Nice post Tim.

    Controversy is one of the best marketing tools I know of.

    It’s kind of ironic that most people would say that they want to do bigger things and yet they spend their time criticizing the people who have done it. Hmmmm ?

    If anyone really wants to go BIG, they better ask themselves “What’s wrong with this picture” ? How can you become what you hate?

    Worrying about what other people think of you is a colossal waste of time.

    It makes you afraid to offend anyone and it limits the true pursuit of your passions.

    Thanks Tim,

    Rick Falls

  76. Insightful post, really targets our physiological behaviour and our desire for admiration and belonging over powering our need for personal growth. This maybe part of some innate behaviour rooted earlier in our life experiences that reveal themselves in the work environment.

  77. I have been saying the same things forever. People like to do what is easiest mom and dad thought it was easier to do it themselves (or pay to have it done) so the kids did not learn how to. Bart asked how to do it?? It is a learned skill you learn to do what is right when it needs to be done (even if you make people mad at you) by doing it. Most people do not understand that we learn skills that carry us through life as kids. We either learn how to make our beds and clean our rooms or we learn someone else will do it for us. Once we learn those skills we keep adding to our “life skills tool box” one skill at a time. Taking dishes away from the table to the sink, washing dishes, (By hand not with the dish washer this teaches how to follow instructions and that there are accepted normal ways to do something) help mom fold the clothes, learn to wash clothes. These are called problem solving skills and kids who have their parents do everything for them have no skills to deal with the normal every day problems and frustrations of life. People ask why we have people shooting other people they were not given the skills to cope with life they needed as kids. It is really quite simple.They do not know how to stand on their own two feet and accept criticism without caving in.

  78. This is a great article.

    I agree, If you are taking action in your life, being who you are and doing your best at it…Not everyone is going to like you.

    For one reason or another there will always (and Hopefully ) be resistance. Resistance builds strength, with out it, we get soft bones, flesh a minds. You can not please everyone and who wants too anyway!

    Thanks, Tim

    -Azstrel

  79. Tim,

    You probably have no idea how relevant your post was/is to me. I couldn’t figure out why certain powers that be and the media make people out to be so evil when they’re not.

    Even if you disagree about this person (AI, who’s forced to retire last night, due to the media coup,) it makes sense. A person who gives to charity, supports his family and friends, yet stands up to the administration can only end up in the situation he’s in now.

    If and when I ‘make it’., I’ll be sure to remember your words, and to never let those who don’t matter, bring me down.

    Thanks Tim.

  80. I am so thankful to hear this today.

    I’ve let myself ride the stress of listening to criticism and the disease of making an effort to please. In some bastard and misinformed way, not hurting or offending anyone can be a misguided assurance.

    Time for the madness to end. Thanks for making me think bigger and smarter and building a better now.

  81. Thank you Tim…

    This post resonates so much that I had to comment.

    I’d like to add one thing… in the world filled with ‘tribes’ some of the people that criticize you may have a hoard of followers…

    Shrug off the criticism … but if it’s truly coming from a source of expertise (even if it is delivered with ridicule, mockery or sarcasm)… then absorbing this criticism and using that to further develop your product, your concept, your business plan may win you a hoard of followers, by proxy.

    my saying “It is better to play and get injured, than it is to watch from the sidelines” ….

    doing involves sticking your neck out there and taking some heat… it’s happens by definition. However, make sure you read people’s motivation for their criticism before deciding weather you want to shrug them off or absorb them.

  82. This made me think of how Chinese people express criticism. In Taiwan, if you openly make any mild criticism of a superior or authority figure you are finished. Someone who causes any kind of loss of face is never forgiven. Better to keep quiet and think of alternative means to get what you want.

    Office meetings usually just consist of the boss talking and everyone just keeps their mouths shut. They may however criticize blameless coworkers of equal status in order to curry favor with their boss. Same game as in the West but with different rules.

  83. My philosophy entirely. I have always tried to walk to my own drummer and

    have consequently pissed off my share of people. In today’s busineess world where PC rules especially within the U.S. it is difficult to find people who

    can handle the unvarnished truth about most situations. I am my own person

    and have for the most part succeeded at what I do. Thanks for the article

    which helps support my beliefs and I will keep it as a reminder when I am

    the most frustrated.

    Angie

  84. Tim, long time, no read, how is the KB action lately? Swung a 2 pood yesterday, I feel great.

    Consequently I would take this a step further and say unless your angry or vengeful, you wont accomplish much either. Vengeance in business has typically lead to the greatest fortunes being created; swearing you will be somebody, proving people wrong, not giving in to adversity or laziness, or the status quo. You need a chip on your shoulder to have an edge, and a big one to really do something. Partying definitely wont get you there. Check out the bio of Ferrari, screw FIAT!

    On the other hand corporations teach you to be neutered and political, swarmy and well dressed, afraid of your own shadow. I have recently shrugged this off my back. Its the entrepreneur who really needs the stinging edge of defeat to fuel the fire; having a disability, being a severe geek/loser as a kid, a tough upbringing, an ugly ego which gets put in check and causes deep self reflection. Channel all of that and you’ve got a winner 😉

  85. Thank you once again Tim for a fantastic post!

    Being 44 now, I know I’ve spent most of the first 34 of my life worrying about what others thought of me – and as I got older I started to realize that they actually don’t “think” about you nearly as much as you think they do. Most of their time is spent thinking about themselves (and what others think of them!) Such a vicious cycle.

    Now I strive to use this as my ruler when making choices:

    From Carlos Castaneda’s: “Don Juan’s Teaching”

    “Anything is one of a million paths.

    Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path;

    if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any condition.

    To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life.

    Only then will you know that any path is only a path,

    and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do.

    But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition…..”

    And it’s that last line that sums it up: To choose free of fear or ambition.

    Here’s to 2010 being a year where we all follow “the path with a heart” free of fear or ambition.

    Warm regards, Kim

  86. Enjoyed this blog post.

    Reminds me of Dan Kennedy’s quote, “The single biggest secret among ALL highly successful entrepreneurs is immunity to criticism.”

  87. Hello Tim

    A very good film about this:

    “Mr deeds goes to town”.

    I was in University and a friend of a friend asked for copying a project I had done last year so he could pass without working( Maybe this is rare in USA but in Spain quite common). I strongly opposed and he got MAD.

  88. This post really pissed me off!

    I am a supervisor at my place of work and now have to reconsider some ass beatings to get some work done. LOL

    The truth is… its best to lead by example. If you walk the walk and are willing to take the hits people will follow.

    I can see how this must be a necessary evil when it comes to business.

  89. Well, not to seem cliche, but Ted Roosevelt said it best:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” 4-23-1910 (99 years later still kicks ass)

    In fact the entire speech is something to be treasured: http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html

    Not sure if this is Epicurus worthy or not but to me it’s not the absence of conflict that’s the goal, but the mastery of conflict.

    I’m thankful for you Tim.

    Best,

    Eric

  90. I’m reading a book called “Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time” -S.Scott. It’s a book about the fears that you reference above that keep us from confronting reality and can manifest itself in a “teddy bear” like demeanor.

    It has a been a great success for me in leading my staff towards excellence and getting the most out of other people as well as myself. But guess what one o the bi-products of confronting fear is…pissing people off. And that’s how you know it’s working.

    Great post Tim. Looking forward to the expanded edition on 12/15.

  91. Great post Tim!

    I see success and leadership as a flowing river. Obstructions (criticism) can slow you down but not stop you. You will eventually find a new path of least resistance or wear down the obstructions to keep moving. When you apply Pareto’s Law to this, you definitely know who the 20% is, they are the ones pissing everyone else off. Take care…

  92. Ah yes Scott Boras the baseball anti-Christ…LOL being a Texas Rangers fan and having both A-Rod and Texiera here at one point both represented by Scott we have seen the effects of his hard work and in the end yes his clients are happy, but what about his clients’ fans. Not sooo much. But that’s not relevant. 🙂

    I think that pissing people off can actually be a great motivator to getting things accomplished. Sometimes if one is not pissing someone off then they are not being very effective in their mission.

  93. Time,

    I could not agree more—which doesn’t always make it easier. There is that line between being a gratuitous asshole and speaking the truth, though. I occassionally stradle that…not proud.

    Take Care,

    Jill

  94. I think this evolved from a quote by Abraham Lincoln, but it always rings true for me:

    “You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not please all of the people all of the time.”

    Maybe this version makes more sense now…

    “You can piss off some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not piss off all of the people all of the time.”

  95. hello

    with constructive mind there is only one thing needed – filtration. if critisism helps you being more successful and effective – you take it, otherwise it doesn’t get inside you (or your attention).

    There is such a great environment here, thank you all and personally you Tim for keeping this place alive. So inspirational sometimes the posts and opinions are …

    There is one thing I would like to share with all you:

    Once, about a year before I read your book, me and my friends had an idea to build a platform, where idea-people can meet entrepreneurs, and vice versa, and not just sell or buy ideas (or muses), but together implement them… After your book the work on this idea became inevitable. New Rich men, as Tim call them, need those muses; inventors need their ideas work. When both sides understands the rules and each other needs (which comprehensively said in the 4hww book) – then we’ll see a huge New Rich Nation in action and real life…

    (click on name to see the simple prototype)

  96. The truth is many people are pretty set in their way of thinking. If you piss them off, it has nothing to do with you personally. Another good quote, “if you only do what easy your life will be hard, if you do what’s hard your life will be easy”. I am not sure who said it.

  97. Tim:

    Thanks for serving as the next step in my transformation(midlife crisis).

    After reading “The Secret” I am convinced that we all have the power to create the life we want. Interestingly, we get in our own way!?

    I’ll keep you posted as I make a move to the international school system. It occurred to me that I can take what I love about my job (school principal) and create a whole new venue. As I have been thinking about this, your book jumped out at me as I was browsing. it seems you have figured it out at 29. I wish I had had the courage to follow my passions year ago. Oh well, I going to make up for lost time.

    Hey, I may run into you dancing flamenco in Seville, Spain someday. I’m quite good!

    Peace.

  98. Tim. I LOVED reading this article… PLEASE Keep pumping out the GOLD! Best to You/Yours… Brian-

    PS Do you like doing Video or Writing blogs better? Or Both?

  99. gee tim, are you saying nice guys finish last? leo durocher beat you to this one. i usually love your stuff, but this is old news…by the way, scott boras achieved his goal with me…money grubbing scum bags like him have ruined the game of baseball.

  100. I disagree strongly Tim.

    The aim is not to piss people off. That’s combative and a waste of energy. Focus on doing what you want to do.

    Who cares whatever happens as a result of being your own person?

    My online venture pisses tons of people off, but that’s not my goal. If getting people angry was my goal I’ll take a different approach; namely, direct provocation.

    Focus on your goal, do what you do best, and forget about how other people will react to you being you.

  101. ahhh Tim these are some interesting words of wisdom…very Deepak Chopra-ish

    What was it that inspired you to write something like this? It glows with passion, knowledge and maybe even a hint of anger. What triggered you to write such a piece?

  102. So many good comments above. Just wanted to add my two cents. Nothing good can be achieved without a little “pain” , we need to be strong in our convictions and stay the course. One of the signs of a great leader is the ability to make tough decisions that will be unpopular with a % of the people they will affect. Being constructive and professional and consistent in your approach not only in business but in life in general is critical. If we waiver on the right way to raise our children they will suffer in the end by being to self indulgent.

    The old adage of “if you stand for nothing you will fall for anything” comes to mind.

    Always make decisions with research, documentation conviction and you will succeed.

    Thanks for the post!

    John

  103. I especially love the quote: “Pissing people off doesn’t mean you’re doing the right things, but doing the right things will almost inevitably piss people off.” This is so very true!

  104. This post really comes on time as I have constantly wondered how to “stay under the fire” or away from it completely but realize that in doing so, I will get no where, and be nothing if I always let others criticize and nitpick at every thing that I do. I appreciate this post especially in the light of when I’m trying to do a lot for myself and get to the next stage of my life and for me that takes a lot of mental power first in knowing how strong one is to propel to newer and better things…

    But I digress, and in that digressing thanking you for this article. 🙂

  105. Dear Tim,

    Your post was interesting and timely for me since I am at another crossroad in my life that will probably require challenging my fears and pissing off a few people. You and others have mentioned that the fear of what others will think of you often causes us to freeze in our tracks. In fact, it is the greatest impediment to success.

    To succeed requires persistence in spite of our own fears and the opinions of other people.. This quality is usually described as the imposition of an iron will toward the attainment of a goal, a partial truth. Persistence is “the physical manifestation of a highly focused mind”. To become highly focused one must truly have an accurate understanding of who he is, and what he really wants. Persistence is derived from our ability sort out the true objects of our desire and focus on them everyday. Fewer than 5% of people can or will do this.

    If we are ever diligent in our search for self-understanding, the outward manifestation will be behaviors consistent with our inner desires, the attainment of our goals, and that which others will describe as persistence.

    Then if they happen to get pissed off, you probably won’t even notice it.

    Thanks for the great post,

    Dale

  106. Tim, great post! I continue to get so much from your blog. The section taken from Colin Powell sums up the nuts and bolts of leadership so well. I’ve been talking about it for the past couple of days with lots of friends. Wish I could send it to my boss!

    Take care.

  107. My junior year at Uni. I discovered that I suffered from 2 common illnesses, “fear of failure” and fear of “what if people think less of me”. I don’t know if I’ll ever completely overcome those thoughts, but there are 2 quotes that I constantly repeat to myself that has helped me to get out of my own way: from the movie Three Kings, “You do the thing you’re scared shitless of and you get the courage after you do it, not before!” And my all time favorite (i’m not sure who said it), “if you knew how little people thought of you, you wouldn’t worry about it so much.”

  108. Tim – Thanks for another great post and for being the catalyst for such an inspirational follow-on discussion. In New Zealand, they call this the “tall poppy” syndrome where everyone tries to chop down the tallest poppies to make them even with everyone else…It’s not one of the nicest aspects of our personalities, but it is human nature and the sooner people accept it, the better able they are to deal with it. Your advice in learning to embrace it and to focus on being builders is dead on.

    I once heard this saying that I think is so appropriate for anyone wrestling with fear of criticism and action – I don’t recall who said it to give proper credit, but I think it deserves being shared (especially for @Bart):

    “I have no intention of tiptoeing through life only to arrive safely at death” ~ unknown.

    In the end, we all end up in the same place, so if you have a good social, moral and ethical gyroscope, you have nothing to fear by being true to yourself and following your heart. This means taking chances and embracing risks. If others have a problem with it and try to knock you down, hold you back or unjustly criticize you – chances are it is they who are the problem – not you. By succumbing to your fear you give other people way too much power over you and why would you want to do that? They have their own lives to screw up – don’t allow them to screw up or marginalize yours!

  109. Well said, Tim. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes of all time, one that pops into my mind at least a couple times a week:

    “What other people think of me is none of my business.”

  110. This idea of pissing people off not only serves in the business world, but in the dating world as well. I find it funny when a guy tries to alter his opinion in order to not piss me off… after the conversations ends I usually decide he is a push over and move on. People who care too much about what other people think are a turn off in any arena.

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  112. Thanks for this Tim. Interesting things always bring criticism, and I find it throughout immediate peers sometimes. I try to help these people be less cynic as well as help them understand why they think the way the do. It let’s them see things in a new way, and gives a positive atmosphere amongst your peers. This is great for people you see day to day.

  113. I totally get you.

    What you speak of is definitely an acquired character trait. Being authentic comes with its price and is indeed painful, yet priceless.

    To summarize what Kerry Gleeson said, you can’t be 100% certain in your decisions at all times, if you’re 80% certain of, execute your plan. It’s more important to take decisions than the correctness of the actual decision.

    In other words, it’s a philosophy towards life. Take the risk, be true to yourself then to wallow with indecisiveness about who you are and what you want out of life. Be passionate.

    So embrace the negative aspect of it too since reality is our friend 🙂 Critical people will always be critical, you can’t expect a change in that.

  114. Tim-

    Great post.

    Our critics, in a nutshell, are those who are not emotionally equipped to handle the changes that come from ideas, changes, etc (we make them uncomfortable). I believe critics valuable in many ways. They can cause us to check ourselves (in the case of intelligent, rational critics) and evaluate our situation. They can cause us to increase our performance, and can spur greater focus (in the face of degrading critics.)

    Usually when it comes to critics I follow the rule “better to act first and explain later” or something like that.

  115. I’ve always “esteemed others more intelligent than myself” – and I’m seldom disappointed.

    There have been times when I’ve had to move on from some people but never because I gave up on them or pissed them off. Very few, but some (outside of the core team by the way), have shown character flaws that I could not abide by. In the end the core team is still standing with me, 100% intact for 9+ years.

    Best wishes for a prosperous and happy 2010, Tim, and all the 4HWW believers.

    Bob

  116. “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”

    Not that it matters, but I think it was Aristotle who was originally noted in saying that…Could be wrong though. Its an amazing line any which way, definitely a favorite quote of mine.

    Good thoughts…

  117. Hey Tim,

    It’s like they say: statues aren’t erected for critics.

    People don’t know what they need until they actually have it. So you have to sell them what they want, but give them what they need. Wasn’t it Ford who mentioned that, before the automobile, if you asked people what they needed they replied, “a faster horse?”

    And because people are resistant to change, hearing detractors is a sign that you’re on the right path to creating something new. Hopefully, what you’re creating is also good of course (as you pointed out, simply ruffling feathers doesn’t mean you’re doing it right).

    I have yet to receive my first big detractors. I’ll keep pushing, refining, and spreading my message through writing and electronic dance music until I start to really piss some people off – then I’ll know I’m on the right track 🙂

    Here’s to doing the right thing and constructively pissing the folks off,

    Oleg

  118. Tim,

    I have to say that while it seems unfortunate, your post is very true. It seems that whenever I seem to be having some level of success, I also get a lot of criticism. I was working on a webcomic with my wife when this was very much the case and while I was able to realize that these comments didn’t matter, it wasn’t something she could deal with and it led to her discontinued involvement in the project.

    However, I think that this often has to deal more with the creative rather than being a necessity of management. In dealing with supervision and working with people, I find that there are ways which you can avoid pissing people off, at least on a personal level. The philosophy of Taoism has a lot to offer on those subjects.

  119. The benefit does not come from pissing people off (tho it makes an attractive headline), the benefit comes from doing what you believe to be right and not being concerned what is going on in the minds of others. When we are ahead of the game on an idea, it takes a tremendous amount of character to push forward with it and a tremendous amount of humility to acknowledge when people who oppose your idea might be right.

  120. I love this post. As a woman who is passionate about construction, I am in both trade school and grad school (MBA) at the same time, and you’d better believe the guys at work hate my guts.

  121. @bart

    Did anyone answer your post/question?

    I would be interested in this information as well. I definitely have the people pleaser personality and this is debilitating many times along with fear of failure.

    I love to put together action plans but never put the plans into action. Anyone else have/had this problem. Anyone have a success story?

    Mark

  122. I must admit after seeing you speak at RailsConf I pretty much was turned off and tuned out. However, this post was spot on. I apologize for letting a single interaction judge an entire body of work. I think Im going to chalk RailsConf up to poor moderation.

  123. Great post Tim. Reminds me of all the criticism of the internet that existed when it was new – and pretty much every other innovation that ever came about.

  124. I am curious. How much does race fold into this question. Are minorities more likely to be criticized for taking moderately sized risks or doing things on a smaller scale. I think that as a minority one has more of the self doubt and there is inevidibly more external criticism

    Most people here are college educated how many times did you tell yourself that a minoirty student probably did not belong at your college because they were an athlete or tha you thought they got peferencial treatment as a minority.

    College is a good example. Just going to ocllege and getting a little

    flack or doubt or even making other students pissed for tour even being there.

  125. Often, negative criticism comes from the failure to adequately explain the reasons for the actions taken. I’ve often initially responded negatively, only to have my attitude changed by a well considered and expressed explanation that had me saying, at the least – “I can see that if I’d been in his shoes I’d have made the same decision,” EVEN if I ultimately disagreed. Whether someone is likely to agree or disagree with me, I feel it can be a “teaching moment” for them them at the least and it’s worth the investment of my time.

  126. So true Tim. Ever since I’ve attempted (and have) taken “the road less traveled by”, I have gotten so much crap and speculation from so many people and I am convinced that much of it comes from jealously of those other people not having the courage to get out on a limb where all the fruit is. I guess if everyone was encouraging of getting others out of their comfort zone and discovering the real joys and fulfillment of life, then everyone would be doing it. Here’s to spending time on the limbs!

    -Scott

  127. Hi Tim,

    This post is so true. For me in my 20s, I was so obsessed with trying to keep everyone happy in my business. I just wanted to please everyone and I would not confront the people or the situations that needed confronting. As a result, I ended up being kicked in the proverbials on more than one occasion. I cannot blame the people who took advantage of me – instead I realise that it was my responsibility to be a leader and ensure that all transactions I went into were win-win, not lose-win.

    So now I understand that criticism will come when I’m being true to myself… but as you say at the end, I’d much rather get criticism from ankle biters than have to live with my own self-criticism of knowing I could have done better if only I’d worried less about the opinions of others.

    Two quotes that have served me well since I made the above realisation:

    1. It’s not anyone else’s job to like me, it’s just mine!

    2. What other people think of me is none of my business.

    Ever since I came to terms with the fact that I cannot please everyone – instead I must focus on being authentic and doing what’s right I have had so much more freedom in my life. And amazingly, I’ve made a lot more true friends and great business connections.

    To being the best you,

    Niro

    PS: Another quote I just remember – Be the best you that you can be. There is nobody else who can do it as well as you.

  128. Great post. it’s funny because many of the men and women we revere today were EXTREMELY unpopular by the majority during their times. A majority of American colonists did not support the sucession from England. If you reflect on anyone who has done something great they were usually pretty unpopular during their times. It’s until the benefits of what they’ve accomplished is achieved do they ever begin to receive appreciation.

  129. Critics are builders–good ones are at least. Construction workers not only construct buildings, but tear down old, dilapidated ones too.

    The point of being a critic is to destroy that which needs destroying.

  130. Duff, this blog is preaching to a chior its not really up to critique from us because we generally agree with the contents or we would be reading a different blog. So if Tim were fishing for criticism hed be a complete moron to search here. When he does see some on this blog hed also be stupid not to read it and analyze a little bit but thats just how things work.

    Its kind of funny I used this blog to become the person I wanted to be someone who people could know and trust with their issues. However lots of people like to say things about me behind my back, which I think is a good thing. If they arent willing to say things in front of me then they arent willing to let them be tested. Its one thing to say to a mutual friend that their friend is an asshole or whatever. Its another thing to say it in person. I have never recieved a personal insult from anyone who I wouldnt consider to be a friend. I have however heard that I raped a girl and stabbed someone from people who never met me and didnt know I was standing near enough to hear them. The girl that I supposedly raped was my girlfriend at the time and I never had sex with her because I respected the fact that she was a virgin and left it to her decission whether or not to do it while we were going out.

    Piss someone off and you can get to hear really funny things.

  131. Tim, you’re so lame…

    Your blog sucks.

    Just get a life! will you… Stop bumming around and wasting your talents – this is becoming quite pathetic.

    Aargh!

    PS: just kidding – was trying to piss YOU off… A wise man just told me it could benefit me 😉

  132. I’ve been grappling with how to make some changes in my career and have realized that I am a bit afraid of criticism and have kept things relatively “safe” for the past few years. I guess it’s not always comfortable or desirable to innovate and challenge myself everyday, but it is also very easy to slip into complacency. In any case, after a few cushy years I think it’s time to grow a pair once again. Thank you for the great article and the encouragement!

  133. I had been rolling along through 2009 like a champ. Things working magically, business doing well, helping a lot of people. Then BOOM this week, OMG, I started a 7 day detox and the world begins to crash, income cut in half, tenants (who i take abundant care of) begin to complain and say really bad things! OMG, I go to yoga, come home for some brown rice, and veggies, I walk out on the grass and think this earth will be here long after I am gone. What am I and who do I think I am that any of it matters. Perspective. Do I roll up in a cocoon, shut out the world, and hope to be reborn in a better form? General Foch, WWI, “My right has been rolled up, my left has been smashed, my center has been driven back. I have ordered an attack on all fronts.” Pity the poor bastards that served under him. I have Plan A and Plan B mapped and under advisement, things are damn tough, but I am ordering an attack on all fronts.

  134. Great Thoughts! There is a reason why there are 24 people of the field and 80,000 in the stands…..the easy thing to do is sit back, cross arms and judge. Be a Player not a Critic!

  135. Tim this is great. It’s such a learned trait to realize we have to allow ourselves to be disliked at times. When we try to please everyone we’re often only pleasing the people we could care less about and who can’t help us.

    Also I like your new “Random” show with Kevin Rose. Great stuff in China!

    Marshall

  136. I AM SO INTO THIS POST. To be honest, nothing really new here, but the logic is simple. In order to do anything stellar or remotely interesting, pissing people off is part of the game. Now, you can cry about it, or use it to your advantage. I used to really freak out when there would be a negative comment about something I’d done, but not only does your skin get thicker, but if there is no controversy…. well… it all ceases to be interesting!

    So thank you Tim for reminding us the importance of riling people up now and again 😉 Tina Fey rocked it at the Golden Globes last year in her speech: “if you ever start to feel too good about yourself, they have this thing called the Internet! You can find a lot of people there who don’t like you. I’d like to address some of them now! BabsonLacrosse, you can suck it.”

  137. It’s interesting when your not responsible or successful in life more people like you but when you expand your mind and go after your dream some or most of your friends disappear.

  138. Tim,

    If you are living 100% through passion (i.e. heart), then I find it very surprising that you end up pissing off 95% of people. I suppose there are some rare examples in history of those who were so far ahead of their time that only later were they understood or appreciated. But with a bestselling book, I’m not sure that that would be the case with you.

    I’m not sure if you are inferring in your post that you piss off 95% of people OR that you’re just making the point that you are okay if you piss off 95% of people OR that your goal is to piss off 95% of people.

    Either way, I suppose that is one path through life, but certainly not the only path to be a good leader.

    Thanks for always thinking outside the box!

    Tisha

  139. Great post! I agree. No one is going to like what you say and do 24/7 and you have to learn from mistakes as well. So if you can’t take the heat then get out of the kitchen. It is the only way people learn. It is how you adapt to pissing these people off which makes you a better person.

  140. I relate to this post very much since I have this personality defined as such by my Mother……”When you’re a hammer eveything is a nail.”

    Thanks Ma.

    Some of the most powerful information for me was at an Amway function in my past life. I am 53 now and saw Dr.Robert Rohm when I was early 40’s and really wished I had seen it when I was younger.

    The course is called Personality Profiles and it changed my life for the better.

    I actually have a personality that runs folks over and I did not think about it.The fact that I am 6 ft 6 inches 260 lbs and muscular actually hurt me in my at that time Amway business since I scared folks into signing up.

    I didn’t take long though to “fix” myself because the outcome is the same if you are afraid that you’ll piss folks off or a hammer like I was.

    No one gets in with you either way.

    So I still don’t understand how folks can be worried about that and want to be friends with everyone but hey at least Dr. Rohm made me realize that those folks don’t understand how I could offend folks and not even think about it.

    That is the genius of the info and what makes the world go round.

    We should learn at all ages.

  141. Tim,

    Is there a threshold where sticking to what you perceive is a leadership position becomes counterproductive? When most (x%) people don’t like what you are doing, it becomes very hard to sell.

  142. ah the dreaded “what will people think” question!

    That was the biggest hurdle for me and one i am constantly reassessing as i go. The key i feel is to choose yourself.

    When trying to please others we believe,( like tim said), that what they WANT is more important than what we NEED.

    Bite the bullet i say, go out and do it, i guarantee the criticism that you are imagining from others wont be as bad as you think!!

    the more you do it the more comfortable you get, when you know yourself, and accept yourself, criticism wont phase you

    thanks tim for another fabulous post!!

    Mel Houghton

  143. Great slide show, I watched it and felt good and then you know what? I felt really pissed off. Because t I think ‘pissing people off’ is a preoccupation of the privileged. I couldn’t quite grasp what exactly pissed me off at first but it was an annoying feeling of recognising the bits where you ignore criticism but really not identifying with the ‘small safe things’ or even having time to think about what people thought. Then I realised that the benefit of pissing people off was purely about massage the ego of those who were privileged in such a way that it could just mean the focus shifts from reaching a goal to acceptance of all kinds of exploitation.

    I think going through life with ‘kid gloves on’ or being afraid of pissing people off is a sign of privilege. I don’t mean one kind of privilege in particular but it is a position in your society, community, work place etc. that makes you feel you have something to lose. It is like a default position of being ‘good’ until you do or say something to cause you to fall from grace, or be blamed. However if you are at the bottom of the pile then you already know your default position is ‘bad’. You already know you are the scapegoat. Worrying about who you piss off is then not a big concern because it is a normal regular occurrence. Even if you are not at fault negative stereotypes and low expectations mean that it is customary that others get pissed off.

    Having said all that, there is the good side of not being privileged. It is the fact there is nothing to lose. It is a position where you can take more risks simply because you have to or want to. It is true that you would need to have to be stronger but in general the focus just would not be about pissing people off or worrying what people think of you. Each action would be a step towards a goal or an act of desperation.

    In the end I think it is not about good leadership, it is more like cats playing with their prey, not because they have hunted to eat but because it is a game of power. The goal, place or success becomes second place to the central focus of pissing others off. I don’t really think the side show gives that impression as it does mention recognising all levels.

    I think you may have missed a lot.

  144. Yes, I pissed off my wife and the benifit I got was getting a divorce !

    In the end I found a woman who was hand made for me by God.

    Tim, I have been doing what you teach for abouyt 32 years and back in the day before Internet was more challanging. I bet we’d have a productive blast brainstorming.

  145. “Don’t go through life with kid gloves on. The stakes are too high, and it is oftentimes more important to give people what they need, rather than what they want.”

    That is the truth about LOVE. Giving people what they need rather than making them feel appreciated or significant all the time is a higher form of love than just meeting their emotional need. Props for getting it

  146. I’ve always been a people pleaser and ended up hating the person I am as I don’t feel true to my inner being or values.

    How can I start this? Spend periods being totally honest with people in the office? Stop sugar coating emails or not getting angry on the phone etc.

    Any help with this is gratefully appreciated

  147. Hey Ian,

    You were asking for help and how to get started. I feel for you as I too lived a large part of my life being bound up in niceties and wanted to make peace with every evil bastard out there. But now at age 56, I say

    to hell with all that.

    And with good reason. Honesty, integrity and authenticity has its own rewards.

    Getting real and keeping it real means you cut to the chase faster and get the heart of the matter in time to make a difference.

    Here’s a true story from yesterday:

    So we get a call from a family member that a certain person had died from advance liver disease. Now this guy was a genuine bastard. Seven years of my life were “wasted” (nothing is really ever wasted but its a matter of perspective.) being intimidated by this blow hard bully. Carlo Rossi, gallon jugs btw, were his undoing. It was rather unexpected since he had been released from the hospital with some meds the week before and they thought they had caught it in time and he had dodged a bullet.

    So with news fresh in my mind and since he was my contemporary, my own mortality was kind of spooking me. Yet, I take my vitamins, supplements, nutrition, exercise and mind state very seriously and basically I really, truly enjoy my life and live in gratitude for all that I have, all that I do and all that I breathe.

    So I am in line at walmart, purchasing some protein bars and the woman in front of me, about my age, mid-fifties, raspy voice, asks the cashier for some cigarettes. The girl reaches for a pack and the lady says, “No, no, no, I need the whole carton.”

    The small coughs and hacks inbetween heard words told me she is days, weeks, or months away from Emphysema and/or congestive heart failure. Afterall, its how my dad died.

    “Uh, excuse me, don’t mind me saying so… but has anyone ever told you that smoking is not good for you.”

    Of course someone has told her. I am not her doctor, but Geez Louise, sometimes you just got tell the truth and be a witness to what’s right and what’s wrong.

    So my advice is keep it real with family, friends and those you come in contact with. In the end it is appreciated. The enormity of living on purpose has its own reward, innately you know what’s true, so does everyone else, we just have to be reminded once in awhile.

    Garey

  148. @Ian – I’d start first with not making yourself wrong for having these needs: harmony, cooperation and consideration; while being aware that your need for self expression and honesty are not being met. Identifying all of your needs & accepting them is the first step before you can go about getting them met. NonViolent Communication taught/teaches me this.

    I’d say you begin with a “for your eyes only” journal. Allow yourself the spaciousness of a no-judgment zone where all your feelings are allowed to be felt & expressed privately. Where what you really feel about people or events can be expressed. Start here so you begin to let out some of the steam of what’s been stifled for so long. And then in small ways begin to say no when you need to e.g. saying no to a friend’s invite when you’re tired.

    I do rec getting connected to your personal needs and if you (or anyone else) wants the list of universal needs just drop me an line.

  149. @Ian – I agree with Kim Ann, but would like to expand on what she said.

    You might want to look for something you would love to do, e.g. a hobby that for some reason, such as negative feedback, you didn’t dare to pick up yet. Then go ahead and visualize yourself spending time on this hobby.

    Do some research on what it’s all about, who else has this hobby, and what they say about it. When you feel ready, go tell those people you are closest to and fear the worst criticism of (that’s relatives or close friends, keep your coworkers out of this for the time being).

    I’m aware this is the hardest part, but I did it, and it worked wonders for me. If you’re very afraid, I recommend learning a bit about rhetorics and body language, that tends to be rather reassuring.

    Because once the news are out, people can twitch and kick as much as they like, they will have to accept the change eventually, and you might even find unlikely allies.

    On a sidenote, it helps to be really annoyed, as in, beyond good and evil, with your current situation. That’s a great motivation to go up against both inertia and heavy criticism.

    In any case, keep in mind that at the end, you’ll have a ton of fun!

  150. Great post, Tim. Keep doing what you’re doing.

    Your article goes along with my favorite quote on critics:

    “To criticize is to persuade the author that he didn’t do it the way I would, if I knew how to”. – Karel Capek

  151. Dear Tim,

    I had always tried to avoid criticism because I feel that whether the criticism is called for or not,it hurts inside. But I have learned too that it does not matter as long as you know you’re doing the right thing.

    Thanks for the entry. This helps me have a stronger will.

  152. Very interesting post Tim.

    It makes me think back to my slightly younger days when I had some good ideas but many people gave me the negative feedback that put some of those ideas on hold.

    It’s when I got away from all that, and got on with stuff, ignoring all the negatives that success came. Some people just hate success, and some people just like to hate. I like the idea of just accepting it within reason and getting on with it.

  153. Tall poppy syndrome is often a name we call it over here. Those people that always bag and criticize those doing well. I guess it makes them feel better to try and bring others down to their level.

    It can be a problem trying to keep everyone happy. PC seems to be getting worse all the time, so at some stage you need to take the stand and go hard on what is important to you, rather than trying to keep everyone happy as you mention.

  154. This is a fantastic post. You can’t expect to get ahead in life if you’re not willing to accept that people are just not going to like a lot of the things you say.

    In fact, I myself try to attract more criticism and negativity. It means that I am growing. Which is a damn important thing to do in life.

    The more you succeed in life, the more negativity you will attract.

    But the great thing is that the positive results you will achieve from being a responsible and down to earth man far outweighs any negativity you might encounter along the way.

  155. This is really all so true. In fact, it kind of reminds me of the old saying “Nice guys finish last”. If you want to get anywhere in life, you have to take control and don’t worry about who gets in your way.

  156. Thank you for writing this. My daughter is in grade 7. One of the girls in her class was in contact with a male that was sending her photos of him in his underwear. My daughter reported it to the principal, the police were called. The texts began when it came out that it was her. The girls mother even sent my daughter a text. The girls parents actually knew what was going on. The girl was involving the classmates, photos of them were sent and she had them chatting with this guy too. My daughter has been barraged all weekend by texts from the girls that this girl called. I was really beginning to wonder if doing the right this was best and found your website. Thank you for this post. We really needed it; I really needed it. Doing the right thing has been really hard but what parent would find it ok for their 12 year old to receive these types of texts and photos? Did we learn nothing from Amanda’s death?

  157. of course, we can’t help being pissed off or for that matter pissed on! it is a society of piss pots who piss on each other and piss each other off not to mention take the piss out of each other (metaphorically speaking). each city-zen ought to take criti-schism with a grain of salt…rather let it pour off your back like water on an umbrella. the people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind. get laid back cool and stop the carping and heating up furiosity. be curious not furious.

  158. To be honest i have pissed plenty of people off both in xbox live, real life, and on other websites on virtual worlds such as SecondLife and all i got was negative results such as almost getting banned from xbox live for constant trash talking, being made fun of behind my back for being an asshole, almost got hacked by someone in secondlife for putting my foot in my mouth when i didn’t mean to, and i got my car banged up by pissing someone off on the road when i left my car in the parking place, and you know? what It was a really shitty life but now i have tried my best to change, i make people happy by joking and having a good sense of humor, I have friendly conversations with people so i can make friends so then they can help me with stuff i am having trouble with and give me stuff i want and i’ll give them stuff back, which by the way these benefits are much more abundant, and much great than you would get by pissing someone because you can’t get any friends or people’s support by pissing people off, anyways yah that’s what i have been working and it’s been much better than it was a while back when all I did was piss everyone off, barely made any friends, and people did negative stuff back as a result of me pissing them off which should obviously be common sense for most people to know that