“Courage is telling our story, not being immune to criticism.” Brené Brown
I’ve been helping a girlfriend launch her first blog. She’s been a bridal writer/editor for years and is now finally ready to rock and roll and create her own website. As we were brainstorming ideas, I told her excitedly “Your site is gonna be so great! Why haven’t you done this sooner?” She looked at me and said, “I’ve been scared.”
Huh? “I hope people don’t criticize me,” she continued. “You know how mean people can be.”
Whether you’re considering launching a blog, an Etsy store, or your own law practice, the fear of criticism is a real thing— right up there with the fear of failure and the fear of the unknown—in preventing people from living out their dreams.
I saw the awesome Dr. Brené Brown speak at a conference. She relayed how her whole life she wanted to fly high, but just under the radar. She wanted to be successful for sure, but not SO successful where all eyes would be on her, judging her.
Well, guess what? When you’re good at something people notice.
After giving a regional Ted talk to about 200 people about her research on vulnerability, almost overnight, she became an Internet sensation. Her talk went viral and has since been viewed over 15 million times.
Brené was instantly thrust in the limelight and unleashed loads of mean-spirited criticism. People wrote nasty things about her like “Less research, more Botox.” And “Maybe you’ll be worthy when you lose 20 pounds.” She was devastated and spent many a day on the couch “numbing” herself with Downton Abbey re-runs. Luckily, she stumbled across this quote from Teddy Roosevelt which inspired her to tell her critics to go f*ck themselves and became the title of her next book, which became a #1 NY Times bestseller btw…
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
In my TV career I have been told that I was too “fast-talking,” “not sophisticated enough,” that my hair looked like a “wig,” and my arms were “fat.” I’ve had people publicly comment that my ideas are either “over the top” or “obvious” and I was “annoying” and “didn’t have a clue.”
People hate for different reasons and most of the time it has nothing to do with you. They could be jealous or projecting, or they could genuinely not like your work or ideas. But so what? The reality is you’re never gonna please everyone. And honestly you shouldn’t even aim to.
Much better to stand up and speak your truth, go after your dreams, and tell your story. Maybe only five people will “get” you and “like” what you have to say. Much better to be heard, felt, understood and liked genuinely by five, than to dilute yourself and have 1000 feel “meh” about you. Or worse, be so scared to speak you play it safe and do nothing.
Sure, no one will criticize you, but you’re also hiding yourself and talents from people who actually need what you have to say and offer.
So I say flip the equation. Instead of being daunted by thinking of all the people who will criticize you, be fueled by all of those people who really need you and your art/service/project. Even if just one person is happier, more inspired and just better off because of you that’s pretty worthy isn’t it?
Let haters hate all they want. You, my dear, are a helper in this world. Now get to it, someone needs you!
Remember that you got this, and I love you.