Imagine for moment that you love to make muffins. You love it so much that you decide to make some for your colleagues at work. Your co-workers respond with such incredible enthusiasm that you decide to make it a routine. Every day, you bring in a dozen muffins and every day they are devoured. Your co-workers clearly appreciate your efforts and seeing the look on their faces as they enjoy your delectable delights is all the encouragement you need to continue bringing the muffins in to work.
After doing this for a few months, you begin to notice an odd trend: some folks are starting to complain. “There’s not enough variety!” “There’s too much variety!” “I can make those better myself!” “You have no business making muffins if you haven’t gone to muffin school!”
One person even goes so far as to send you a lengthy email explaining how your muffins have not been approved by the National Muffin-Makers of America, and therefore your muffin-making skills are in question.
You start to wonder what’s going through your co-workers’ heads and whether or not this is worth the hassle.
Time passes, and in spite of the occasional complaints, your muffins are enjoyed and consumed daily. In fact, things are going so well that you were able to start acquiring paying customers who are willing to give you money for a premium product you now call Uber Muffins. But once again, that success comes at a price. Many folks who continue to enjoy your free muffins begin complaining that you are always so busy making muffins for your customers that you never have time to make free muffins anymore. The irony here is that you actually do continue to bring free muffins to work, but not as frequently as you used to.
So why would you continue making muffins in what seems to be a thoroughly thankless environment??
Because it isn’t thankless at all! For every person who says, “Your muffins are dry!”, there are ten times as many who feel your muffins are moist and delicious, even if they don’t feel compelled to give you the positive feedback you desire. You see, in this world, the vast majority of muffin lovers simply enjoy your muffins and don’t feel compelled to say anything about it. But when someone has something negative to say, they don’t hesitate to blurt it out for the world to hear. That’s just the way people work. But remember, the empty plate in the break room tells the tale.
The somewhat disappointing reality for muffin-makers is that if you give a dozen muffins away for free on a routine basis, a certain percentage of people will start to feel entitled to your muffins. The truth is, they love them. But if you ever change the flavor, vary the number, or possibly even forget to bring them in one day, their natural sense of entitlement kicks in and they won’t hesitate to make you feel like you’ve done something wrong, when in fact you simply neglected to give them their daily dose of free muffin goodness.
So if you’re a muffin-maker and you’re in it for the long haul, you will have to remind yourself routinely of the fact that most muffin-lovers have no reason to contact you. The ones that have something negative to say could very well outnumber the ones that have positive feedback, and that sucks. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that this very small sample is representative of the whole. It’s not! Most people are quite reasonable and they truly appreciate the muffins you are willing to make for them, whenever you have time to make them.
If you’re a muffin-lover, don’t miss an opportunity to let your favorite muffin-maker know how much you appreciate not only the taste of their muffins, but the fact that they are willing to put their heart and soul into delicious tasty treats and share them with you at no cost. Your feedback is what keeps that oven fired up.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, muffins can be replaced with just about anything someone produces. In my personal situation, it is in reference to the creation of free woodworking content and the path I took to get where I am now. On a daily basis, I deal with feedback from strangers around the world who make the most ridiculous assumptions and accusations based on the perceived frequency and quality of my free content. Frankly, YouTube is the source of most of this negativity but what can you expect from “the internet’s lower intestine.” Of course, there are thousands of kind and thoughtful people on YouTube and I always appreciate hearing from them, so let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. I don’t even know how he’d fit down the drain, but I digress.