Not for everyone

Why we cannot and should not aim to please everyone

As business people, as creatives – and as human beings – it`s important to understand and accept that our work is not for everyone. This is not just the case with art but also with any service or product. Take cars for example. Not everyone would love a classic car. And some wouldn`t want any other car but a classic one. 

It is impossible to please everyone, but it is possible – and much more effective – to please someone or a few people. The famous American marketing expert Seth Godin says: “It is impossible to create work that both matters and pleases everyone.” And: “Don`t be a purple drop in the ocean but be a purple drop in a swimming pool. Walk away from the ocean and look for a swimming pool.”

If we want to create work that truly matters to SOME, then we need to stop trying to dilute it, so that EVERYONE can be happy with it. We need the confidence and the courage to tell those people who don`t like it: Well sorry, but this is not for you. If we want to create authentic and strong work, it can`t be for everyone – and that’s ok.

"You are your most important audience"

This doesn`t mean that we shouldn`t learn and improve and progress. However, while staying open to constructive critique, we primarily should stay true to ourselves. Photographer David duChemin writes in his book ‘The heart of photography’: “You are your first and most important audience.”

There will always be things that can be improved, and we`re just human. But while we keep making progress and working on our art, we shouldn`t run after compliments or try to please everyone. We need to be able to distinguish: Does the person, who doesn`t like my work, have a point? Is there an opportunity for me to learn? – Or is my work just not for that person? Both are just fine.

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