The key to failure
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” ― Bill Cosby
“Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for.” ― Earl Warren
There’s a very real difference between showing courtesy and respect to people with opposing views, versus compromising or hiding one’s own beliefs for fear of disapproval. Admittedly it’s easy to confuse the two behaviors, especially for those in fields such as entertainment or politics, where popularity is crucial to success. But even those of us who are relatively anonymous can fall into the trap of trying to please everyone.
Still, there are many people to whom we can look for examples of moral courage. Some of them are public figures, either contemporary or historic. Others are private citizens, the people we see every day. What makes them worthy of admiration is their willingness to stand by their convictions despite the certainty that criticism will result.
These people do not engage in shouting matches or seek to prove themselves superior. Rather, in quiet dignity, with confidence and without apology, they live according to high standards that don’t always match the cultural norm.
If you ever feel odd, feared or rejected because of views or behaviors that you believe to be morally right, no matter how unpopular, remember that it is impossible to please everyone. Criticism is inevitable, and popularity is not a reliable predictor of integrity.
While we all do well to examine and re-examine our standards, basing them on a higher authority than our own selfish natures, we also must bear in mind that public opinion is not always a trustworthy arbiter of right and wrong. If you are facing criticism, consider carefully before acquiescing to it. Sometimes, it might mean you’re already doing the right thing.
One year ago today: