“That’ll never work…!”
“What the hell are you thinking…?”
“That’s a terrible idea…!”
Anyone who’s ever done anything of consequence has heard those, or similar words.
Setting out on your own, taking your life into your own hands, and doing things your own way will bring out the critics in droves. That’s the nature of the game.
There’s a huge difference between constructive criticism and plain old regular criticism:
- Constructive criticism is designed help you grow.
- Regular criticism is designed to keep you down.
You’ll know instinctually the difference. If your head is saying, “Dude… quit harshing on my idea,” but your gut is saying, “You, know… what he’s saying makes sense,” that’s constructive criticism.
If your head and your gut is saying “This guy’s an idiot,” that’s regular criticism.
Constructive criticism has value. It can be a tool, and is generally offered by those you respect. It’s a form of advice and useful feedback.
Regular criticism comes from those out to belittle you, and it usually comes from two types of people — the “Never Was” and the “Once Was.”
The Never Was
The Never Was is bitter. They tried and failed (meaning they gave up) or they never tried. They were too afraid to pursue their own dreams, so they take their cowardice out on others. The Never Was:
- Tries to make themselves feel better, by putting your ideas down.
- Takes random, incoherent shots — none of their criticisms really make sense.
- Results to name calling because they can’t formulate a valid argument.
- Tells you that something will not work, but not why.
- Uses their failure as a reason for why you won’t succeed.
The Once Was
The Once Was had their moment in the sun, and they have used that brief success to create an expert facade. Though they haven’t done much recently, they relive their glory days by providing unsolicited advice (criticism) about how things should be done. It should be done the way was it was done 10 years ago — that’s how.
The Once Was is easy to spot in the wild. Every criticism contains the phrase, “Well back when I was with Big Successful Company, Inc…”
They also tend to struggle with new ways of doing things, cheaper ways of doing things, and any idea that’s not their own.
The Worst Kind of Critic
Ignoring the critics can be difficult, but the worst kind of critic is the inner critic.
It’s the voice in your head that chooses to listen to the naysayers, records what they say, then plays it back to you constantly.
It’s easy to say:
- Don’t let it get to you.
- Don’t listen to the inner critic.
But you know what — that too, is part of the game. Just like all the critics out there, there might be something of value coming from the inner critic.
So listen to what the critics have to say — both those inside your head and out. Look for the value in what’s being said, and take the advice of those who help you grow.
Then confidently, yet politely, tell the others to get bent.