power in words and pictures

It's Not About the Likes

It’s Not About the Likes

“If you just set out to be liked, you will be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and would achieve nothing.”
― Margaret Thatcher

The votes came in, and I took second place in the category of “Best Dressed  Girl” in my senior class. Vicky had more votes, in my opinion, more likes, and her lovely smile has remained on the page of the yearbook for the past 35 years. Who remembers the person who got the second greatest amount of likes? Only that person. That contest was neither the first nor the last in which I would not take first place. When I first joined the photography group I love so much, there was a prize for the submission with the most ‘likes’ on Facebook. One time, my photo was chosen, and it was exciting and humbling. I haven’t had the most likes in many things in my life. You know what, Margaret Thatcher was a wise woman — if the only reason I participate in my photo group, if the only reason I help with a project, and if the only reason I dress nicely every day is to be liked, I’ll really achieve nothing, and neither will you.

I suppose I’ve spent most of my life trying to be liked, but as a parent that is a dangerous approach to take. With two boys, limits had to be set. Not as strict as others nor as liberal as some, we parented our children as well as we could, with lots of love, and they (adults) seem to genuinely like us today. That’s a win, but even if they didn’t like us, we could rest in knowing we parented in a way we believed was fair and loving — with a few apologies made along the way. What is it that compels us to do good things, though, to parent well or to manage people well — likes or meaningful achievements?

If you have people working for you, have you found a balance between being controlling and being everyone’s buddy? Not unlike being a parent, being a boss cannot be about being liked if we want to be effective. Creating a structured environment with reasonable expectations will allow for people to be able to get a job done and still enjoy being where they are. The same can be said if you are on the other side. If an employee is so consumed with the being liked by the boss or if a student can’t enjoy being in school because they are so concerned with staying on the teacher’s good side, it is a difficult act to sustain, and danger could be just around the corner.

It is the risk of compromise that brings that danger, and it happens all too often in our society. People have a choice:

  • The person who wants to get the bid on a job — 1) say what they believe the interviewer wants to hear in hopes of getting the job or 2) shoot straight explaining his or her capabilities and limitations.
  • The politician who wants to be elected — 1) say the things he or she believes will make people like them and vote for them or 2) say the things that truly represent who they are as a candidate or elected official.
  • The volunteer who wants to be the star of the show — 1) sign up for every opportunity to serve, promising to do more than is really possible or 2) share the limelight with others in order to achieve the best for the organization.

Concerned with being liked more than with working toward worthy achievements, a person will often find himself in the position of having to compromise. Whether being caught in a lie and having to wiggle out of it or being unable to do all you promised and compromising the quality of work, we will never truly achieve success until we put what is best before being liked.

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