Don’t Try to Be Loved

In my line of work, there’s a maxim that employees are motivated primarily by one or more of four things.  They are:

  1. Money
  2. Power
  3. Status
  4. Popularity

Not the best of motivations, but there it is.  Think of some of the people you work with.  Doesn’t this ring true?

I want to address the fourth one today: popularity.  I find that lots and lots of people are motivated by the desire to be loved by people around them.

I think this is a big mistake.  You should care about being loved by only two sets of people:  your spouse/partner and your friends.  You should not try/hope to be loved by:

  • Your kids
  • Your customers
  • Your co-workers
  • Your boss

When you try to be loved, you are motivated by the wrong thing, and act in wrong and counter-productive ways.   Here are some examples of what I mean:

Your kids have lots of friends.  They only have one parent.  Be that parent, and don’t measure your success by whether or not they love you, especially when they’re teenagers.  Parenting means making hard calls, insisting that they do things that are hard for them so that they turn out to be decent adults.  Enforcing this program is a guaranteed recipe for unpopularity.  But do the right thing by them, and you might be surprised how much their respect turns to love all on its own as time goes by.

Your customers need you to get product to them in an efficient and cheerful way.  When you try to be loved by them, you cut corners and do things that don’t make sense for your business.  You discount your product, and bend rules that shouldn’t be bent. And they don’t respect (or love) you for it either.  Hold your ground.  Always be respectful and put their needs first.  But don’t try to be popular with them.

Same with your co-workers.  Except in rare cases, these people are not your real friends.  You may like them and be friendly with them and have great times together, but 95% of the time, when you leave that job, they drop out of your life.   Don’t waste your time trying to be popular with them.  Instead, do a great job, and they’ll respect you and think fondly of you (and maybe even love you) when your paths diverge.

I had a teacher in grades 7-9 who pushed me.  Mr. Brock.  He was a tyrant at times.  He chewed me out more than once.  He demanded my very best because he wanted me to be my best, and as a result I knocked myself out for him.  I don’t think he ever considered whether or not any of us liked/loved him.  He didn’t care about that.  He cared about us being our best, and delivering our best.

The teachers who tried to be cool and popular on the other hand, weren’t.

So stop being motivated by popularity.  Do the right thing, and you’ll find popularity thrown into the bargain for free.

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