How to disappoint

Benjamin Franklin writes about a man who had expressed confidence in him and promised to set him up in a printing business even at a young age. Franklin was excited and began preparation for this new venture.

Long story short… the man proved to be more of a talker and less of a doer and left Franklin sitting in a heap of broken promises.

Describing this man, Franklin wrote, “He wished to please everybody; and having little to give, he gave expectations.”

I was processing those words this morning and thought:

Fundamental rule of life: you are going to disappoint people. The “nice” thing is that you get to choose “who” and “how.”

I would rather disappoint some people with the truth than I would all the people with unrealistic expectations.

As an optimist, encourager, and leader, it is easy to see the “possible” and overlook the obvious.

The better option is to look at the obvious through the lens of the possible. In other words, rather than starting with what “I want to be…” how about starting with “What is” and working towards “What I want to be.”

Remember this, the Bible says, “To flatter people is to lay a trap for their feet” (Proverbs 29:5). Flattery, expressing unrealistic expectations, etc. sets people up for the inevitable crash, and when it happens they may not be as gracious as Ben Franklin.

It is better to initially disappoint someone by being honest with them than it is to eventually disappoint them as they slowly realize the truth… the truth that you didn’t tell them. When they recognize the truth they will disregard you and likely themselves too, and no one wins under those circumstances; you lose credibility and they lose confidence.

When you have to disappoint, do it with the truth.

2 thoughts on “How to disappoint

  1. and when someone has to be honest with us…we also need to hear their truth.
    Both are tough to do aren’t they?

    A very difficult 2 way street, but we need to have some 2 way streets, otherwise it would take us forever to get to our destination. šŸ™‚

    Ashton is two already. Time really flies doesn’t it?
    Praying for all of you.

  2. Paul
    As a fellow optimist and encourager who oftens finds herself in leadership situations – I found this post to be inspirational. Encouragers in the real world can only affect God’s kingdom by building relationships – long term. Encouargers must be sincere and ready to deliver – make good in tangible ways to have the greatest impact. Thank you for sharing.

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