For years I would take polls from my students that asked what kind of classes they'd like to attend and what subjects interested them. I would even inquire about details like how long of a class they would sit through, how much they'd be willing to pay, etc ... I really wanted to serve the folks that were interested in working with me.
After awhile I realized that no matter how tailored the classes were to the overall preferences of my students and clients, in no way did that mean they would actually show up for the events. So many times I would arrive at the rented location and get everything ready ... to have 0-1 people attend, and often that 1 person was my future husband, Chris. He was always so supportive. To my credit, whether it was only Chris or just myself in the room, I taught the class... practice makes perfect, right?
Eventually I changed my approach. I started to teach subjects that I was actually interested in teaching. I figured if I was going to give a class to 1 person then it was going to be on an intriguing topic. Plus, you learn more about a subject when you teach it, so I'd host classes on subjects I wanted to learn more about. Droning on about a subject I didn't care about to people who were half-interested felt like a form of torture; I don't recommend it.
Today, I encourage folks who are training with me to ONLY teach classes they'd actually like to teach. The more I offered classes that felt compelling to me, the more people showed up. Instead of doing something out of obligation or attempting to please my students, I enrolled them into my enthusiasm. It was a much more productive approach and even if the class was small, I didn't mind because I was having fun.
It's easy to fall into the habit of people-pleasing when you're building a career as a teacher or coach. There's so little joy to be shared when in a co-dependent relationship with your clients. I've watched dozens of my colleagues burn out because no matter how much they do to please their clients, nothing works. This is why I stick to topics that interest me and invite everyone else to the party. I'm never bored and I'm always learning new things. This is a great recipe for sustainability and success.
Jesse Brune-Horan is a Spiritual teacher and happy living expert. He's the co-founder & Spiritual director of Inspire Spiritual Community, a non-profit organization supporting the LGBTQ+ community. He's the host of the podcast "LGBTQ+ and Spiritual", and co-host of the lifestyle series "Super Easy with Jesse and Alison." He lives and Loves in Los Angeles with his husband Christopher and their family.