Critics are everywhere. Set an ambitious goal or chase a dream and someone will pass judgment on you. It’s a given. For the most part, we should brush off the criticism of others. Theodore Roosevelt had it right, “it’s not the critic who counts”. That said, it’s easier to do when the criticism comes from a stranger. When it comes from friends, family, and the people you care about – well, that’s a little tougher.
I experienced this firsthand when I made the decision to publish my blog. Overall, the response was warm and positive, but it did raise a few eyebrows. I had a couple of friends who just didn’t get it. I mean, why would a guy with a great job and a nice family want to do all this blog stuff anyway? What was my end-game? Most of all, who was I to think that people would pay attention?
In the past, comments like that would have been enough for me take down the site down and quit altogether. But this is now. And something very different happened.
When I encountered criticism, I didn’t get hurt or intimidated. Instead, I saw it as an opportunity to grow. Here are 3 things I learned from my critics:
We rarely take time to focus on what we want or where we are going in life. We live lives of distraction. With instant messaging, social media, and constant connectivity – there are so many things which vie for our attention. My critics caused me to pause and reflect about my purpose and intentions. Why was I doing this? What were my goals? Why post each week?
For me, I had discovered some tools and strategies over the years that changed my life. I was so excited about it I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. A blog seemed like the best format to do that. I had never thought about it in terms like that before I started getting questions for people.
Once you make the decision to take action and follow your dreams, you will be tested. Not everyone will be your fan and some will let you know about it. Just accept it. It can be intimidating to put yourself out there, but facing your fears is the only way to grow. When you have a clear purpose and your actions connect with who you are as a person, the negative opinions of others won’t hold sway with you anymore.
I admit, I hesitated before publishing my blog. I was afraid my friends and colleagues would think I was a joke. Once I understood that we are all individuals with unique stories and experiences worth sharing, the fear went away. People may cast stones, but no one can truly devalue your authenticity. This gave me great confidence to move forward.
You can use critics to help identify your weak points, adjust direction, or offer a different point of view. Businesses will use customer complaints to improve the quality of a product. Government entities will adjust the type of services it offers based upon the response from the public. The list goes on. You can use criticism the same way. Of course, you have to differentiate between constructive criticism and the words from naysayers who want to tear you down. The point is, take what is useful – discard the rest.
Remember, you are not obligated to entertain the criticisms of others, but you don’t have to ignore it either. As I found, criticism in any form can be used to gain clarity, confidence, and insight. Find the value and use it to your advantage.