The Sting Of Criticism

The truth hurts.

When you put yourself out there and you create something or you share part of yourself with a wider audience you open yourself up to comments.  You’d be naive to think that’s not part of the deal.

For the most part though, 80% of the feedback you get from people is quite positive.  Most people are genuinely kind and have nice things to say.  This also lends itself to the idea that you probably know more about your particular topic than the vast majority of people who are listening to you or reading your stuff.  At the very least you’ve probably given it considerably more thought than they have.

The remaining 20% of the feedback is the stuff that can be harder to deal with.  Some of it can be quite vicious and mean-spirited.  In my experience, not much, but some for sure.  I generally don’t let it bother me.  I have really thick skin and I’ve got a razor sharp wit, so I can give as good or better than most people.  Normally, I let it go but occasionally someone gets a good spray back.

The feedback that hurts the most though is the stuff that’s true.  It’s legitimately negative commentary and it’s totally on point.  Not only does that cut, but it’s like getting salt tossed into the wound.

For the most part, I’m ok with criticism because it usually comes from the other person not seeing eye to eye with you or understanding your point of view.  There’s not too much you can do about that except maybe try and clarify your perspective in an effort to come to a common consensus.

But when the criticism exposes something that you aren’t doing well and you have come up short, that’s when it hurts.

Dealing with this last type of criticism can go one of two ways in my experience.

One way it can go is that you ignore the feedback and sail your own course.  If someone has pointed out something in your strategy that can’t easily be fixed, then sometimes you just have to accept the shortcoming and keep going forward.  You can make a mental note, but you have to go forward.

Too often people have something pointed out to them about their business that exposes a flaw in their logic.  They have no easy way to rectify that situation so rather than going forward and figuring it out on the fly, the stop.  Their business grinds to a halt and they undergo a self-performed colonoscopy.  Things stagnate and other things start to fail.

The other way you can approach the problem is to make repairs on the fly.

I like to think of what happened with Apollo 13 as the inspiration for this approach.  There was a catastrophic failure in the mission, they changed their objective from landing on the moon to just getting home safely and they patched their ship up with spare parts they had on hand.  They improvised and got their desired outcome.

You can do the same thing in your business.  If someone criticizes what you’re doing and they identify a legitimate flaw in your plan, then look to see if you can crack out the duct tape and plug that hole.  Once you stop the bleeding then you can come up with a better, more long-term solution.

I think my businesses are like whale sharks, they have to keep swimming or they die.  If gingerly pull over to the side of the road and daintily change tires because you think the left front is a little low on pressure, there’s a good chance you’re going to be very late or may even miss out on where you’re trying to go.

But with all of that said, criticism that’s really on point and you know it, hurts.  It’s like a sword slipping between your armour plates and driving into your sternum.

It will test you, but the best thing you can do is take it on board, make changes when you can and keep moving forward.

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