“I don’t think you were put here to please everybody; that would be horrible. You have to have some kind of a stand and stand against something as well. If not, you’re just being accommodating.”
– Rocco Deluca
A few weeks ago I was talking to my friend, Harley Flanagan, about my latest kettlebell DVD on fat loss. As many of you know, Harley’s the founder of the NYC hardcore band, The Cro-Mags, and is working on a new CD (which I’m financing) that’ll be out soon. I’ve heard some of it and it rocks! But that’s a story for another time, so let’s get back to the conversation I had with Harley: while Harley likes my DVD, he thinks I’m missing the mainstream market with my personality and teaching style. He didn’t insult my approach, just stated that it’s hardcore and intimidating to a lot of people. He’s probably right, but me making a soft, mainstream fitness DVD is like asking Harley to model his musical style after Justin Timberlake in order to hit the mainstream market! It is not going to happen! It means not being genuine, and when you’re not genuine people pick up on it. This is a main reason why most fitness DVDs–and most music Cd’s–are terrible: instead of doing what he wants to do and letting it flow authentically, the artist starts thinking about what’s going to sell and how to please people. Hell, this is the main reason why most movies are forgettable: too much of a corporate cookie-cutter approach that insults the viewer. You know what’s going to happen in the first ten minutes and thus drift into oblivion for the next two hours.
The problem with being accommodating is the focus gets shifted to what doesn’t matter. In a recent episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio, actor Matt Damon said that winning an Academy Award shouldn’t be the focus of an actor–the focus should be the craft itself and doing the best job possible. The best job possible comes from being genuine, and in the moment, rather than being focused on approval from others.
The problem with always accommodating the needs of others is you stop taking risks, and begin to live your life like a spineless politician who has to take a poll before any decision. If you only take action after getting validation from others, then you’ll never live fully. You’re no longer a real person, but a pinball in the game of life being thrown from one side of the table to the other–not an empowering way to live, to say the least. There’s a rush that comes from having the deck stacked against you and prevailing; those are the times when you discover what you’re made of and are fully alive.
Many of the greatest human beings were people who refused to be quiet and accommodate the wishes of others. Gandhi refused to move from his seat on a train and as a result was literally thrown off the train. He went from being a lawyer focused on making money to becoming arguably the greatest human rights leader of all time. Gandhi learned the importance of not-accommodating in seemingly insignificant cases and used that to prepare himself for the major cases later in his life.
Being accommodating in major areas of your life comes from being accommodating in the seemingly insignificant areas. Recently, I was on a flight and got stuck in the middle of a row. Not a fun place to be, and even worse when you’re seated between a couple talking over you while passing things back and forth to each other. It was irritating and disrespectful, to say the least. Finally, I suggested that I either switch seats with one of them or they respect my personal space and stop passing things over me and talking over me. While they were the ones that were being rude both of them looked at me like I was crazy. Clearly they were used to having their way. Fortunately I spotted an empty window seat in the front row and moved leaving the annoying couple pondering why someone had the audacity to question their rude and inconsiderate actions. Ah, I miss my private jet from the old days 😉
Yes, I realize the above instance of non-accommodation is hardly dramatic. But, that’s the point: it starts with the small stuff. When you accommodate others, you’re a victim as a result–no matter how insignificant the situation–and you create a victim pattern. If you can’t stand your ground with small stuff, you’ll be crushed when major events come your way, e.g., instead of quitting a lame job and going after what you really want, you’ll accommodate the boss, taking the path of least resistance. In this manner, your entire life passes you by with you wondering what happened.
From an early age we’re taught to accommodate others at the expense of ourselves. Sure, some accommodation is necessary and we can’t always have things our way, but letting others walk all over us and decide how we should live our lives isn’t acceptable. You don’t have to explain your actions to others nor get their approval. So some people aren’t going to like you? Well, they weren’t going to like you anyway so it’s not a big deal.
It’s a liberating feeling knowing you don’t have to take crap from people; you can stand your ground and do what’s best for you instead of living a fear-based, accommodating lifestyle. Just remember to be a non-accommodator with the small stuff and you’ll automatically become a non-accommodator with the major battles.
My new book Live Life Aggressively! What Self-help Gurus Should Be Telling You is finally out. It is available here on my website in ebook format and available in print format from amazon.com. I will be using the 260 page book as a fundraiser for two fantastic organizations.