You may have heard of that old ballad by the former teen idol Ricky Nelson. The tune, called “Garden Party,” told of a concert at Madison Square Garden, where Nelson was jeered by displeased fans who preferred his old songs, not the new numbers he performed. “You can’t please everyone, so you gotta please yourself,” Nelson sang. Easy for him to say: he got a solid gold hit record out of a mocking swipe at his former fans.
In business, as in life, you really can’t please everyone. If one customer likes a chatty, friendly approach, another wonders why you can’t just “cut to the chase.” Another may need nonstop maintenance while his opposite is practically hands-off. And there YOU are, like a den mother taking a troop of Cub scouts to the zoo.
So who are YOU trying to please, and can you serve all of them well? Naturally the answer isn’t easy. If it was, we‘d all have Donald Trump’s bank account (please, keep his hair!).
It’s like when the oxygen mask drops on the plane. You put it on first, and then help your child or seatmate. As long as you can breathe, you can function, and juggle. If you aren’t pleasing yourself first, you can’t possibly cope with anyone else’s wants and needs. You’ll be too unhappy to see that one business associate needs nurturing, another needs a good joke and a third needs a crisp, just-the-facts rundown.
The cliché tells us the customer is always right. Our daily reality tells us that, sometimes, that is true. But without you staging the show, there is no customer. And if you’re unhappy while trying to appease too many others, customers will pick up the signals and head for the exits. Borrow Ricky Nelson’s songbook and make your theme “Me First, Then How May I Help You?”
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