Your Work Doesn’t Have to Please Everybody

My wife’s cousin is a Command Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army. My wife and I, and others of my wife’s extended family, watched him retire after 31 years of service. It was a moving ceremony. I’m proud of what that man did for our great nation. Also, I deeply respect his wife who followed him around the world while raising a family.

The retirement ceremony and celebration took place in Fort Campbell, which borders Kentucky and Tennessee. The day after the festivities, some of us road tripped an hour down to Nashville, TN. We spent a pleasant afternoon in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. While there, wandering through the exhibits and soaking up the music, I found an excellent illustration of the lesson that you can be wildly successful — by any measure of the word — while still not pleasing everyone.

In the Museum, there was a large exhibit dedicated to one particular artist who has won ACM Awards Entertainer of the Year or Male Vocalist of the year for the past several years. His tours pack coliseums. Several of his albums have been certified Platinum or better. Of course, he is good-looking and extremely wealthy. Aren’t they all?

But here’s what struck me: I’ve heard his name, but I’ve never, so far as I know, heard him sing. I own none of his albums. I couldn’t name even one of his songs without help from Google. And I have never been to one of his concerts. Same for my wife. Such incredible success, yet there are whole swaths of the population who are not fans of his work.

This insight is neither new nor surprising. Yesterday, I was reading another writer’s blog. The subject was authors who are not very good writers. They gave as an example a certain well-known author of mysteries and thrillers who, according to my quick Google query, is worth over $700 million. Not bad for a fellow who cannot write well. Again, I have no personal opinion because I’ve not read any of his books. I’d wager he doesn’t care.

Zig Ziglar wrote a book called See You at the Top. There’s plenty of room at the top, especially since there’s no general agreement as to where “the top” is located. We each have to find it for ourselves. Enjoy the journey!


plenty of peaks
Reiterkarspitze Obertilliach by Marco, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0