A mother, her young son, and their donkey are taking a long journey through the countryside. The mother is riding the donkey with the son walking alongside as they enter a village. All of a sudden, the village people gather and start stoning them. The pair run away and manage to escape. The mother is dumbfounded, and as they approach the next village, she thinks, “Maybe they thought it was inappropriate to have the son walk,” so they switch places and prepare to enter. But once again, they’re stoned by the village people. At a total loss, she thinks, “Maybe it’s the donkey. Maybe they worship donkeys in this country.” So before entering the next village, they decide to pick up the donkey and carry it, but it proves so heavy that as they cross a bridge, the donkey falls over the side, lands in the river, and drowns. 

What’s the moral of the story? If you try to please everyone, you’re going to lose your ass. 

  • “Traction: Get a grip on your business” by Gino Wickman (page 54)

When I read this illustration I couldn’t believe how many asses I’ve lost!

I’ve spent a long time trying to please others and in the process I’ve hurt other people. The person I hurt the most was myself.

I don’t think that the point of this story is not to care about other people with their wants and needs. This is inherent in building relationships. But trying to please everyone at the same time with the same equal amount of enaSergy and making this the focus is wrong headed and will cause burn out.

There is a natural tension that happens in life with putting others first and taking care of ourselves. Neither can be done at the expense of the other.