ISSUE 64 ISSN 1712-468

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain—and most fools do. 

Dale Carnegie

Pay no attention to what the critics say… . Remember, a statue has never been set up in honor of a critic! 

Jean Sibelius, Finnish Composer 

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This Week´s Inspiration

Just Say No to Critics and Criticism!

Criticize: to judge as a critic: to find fault: express blame, censure, condemn

Has anyone ever criticized you? How did that feel? 

Depending on the level criticism, it could feel like a bee sting or a punch in the gut with a sledgehammer. 

But does criticism have to hurt you?

It seems that no matter what you do—unless you are doing nothing—there will be others who, without your invitation, will judge you. 

I am not talking just about good friends or mentors working together or even work-related accountability. Life’s daily processes seems to include our society’s penchant for being critical. 

I want to encourage you to push back your critics. Don’t let them drive your life. They are usually acting on their agenda, not yours.

Research shows that victims—individuals who blame, justify, and complain about their situations—are the greatest persecutors. They are the first in line to tell everyone else how pathetic others are. Most of these victims are complaining to gain attention and hide their own weaknesses and lack of self-worth.

There is no question that not taking things personally is one of the most difficult things to learn to do in life. And it can be one of the most important. Why? Let me explain.

If you take others’ critical comments personally, that will more than likely take you out of the game of life, at least for awhile. When you take their negative comments to heart, you have given your power and the direction of your life over to others. Why would you let that happen? In the end, who you are is your process, not theirs.

Over 16 years ago, that happened to me. A colleague (not my boss) shared—without my permission—his criticism regarding my life choices. 

I was leaving my sales position as top-performer in the company to start my own sales training firm. He proceeded to criticize my leaving the company; he said he knew my new business would not only fail, it would go bankrupt. 

I did leave to start my own company but I let that man’s statement linger in my mind for months—even years—and let his agenda sap my energy and direction. To this day, I have no idea why he felt it was necessary to make such a statement to me but, at the time, I was not grounded and mature enough to handle it, so I took his statements personally. 

Just a couple of years later, his agenda became more clear. He lost his job due to non-performance and his wife and kids left him. It might have been his own fears and insecurities that he was voicing to me.

Yes, we want to continue to grow through feedback and understanding but this needs to be driven by you, not others. If you listen to every person—whoever decides to criticize your choices, direction, or conduct—you would simply go mad. 

In the end, it is your life. Don’t let others live it for you.

Here is a statement to keep in mind.

What other people think of me is none of my business.

Stand firm; don’t listen to the critics.

On the flip side of that coin is the condition where a person takes EVERYTHING personally. He or she is frozen by the interactions and feedback of life. Embittered and low in self-confidence, these individuals get defensive, angry, and critical of all others who do not conform to their ideas or meet their needs. This is another ezine topic (playing the victim) but it links into how criticism has multiple sides to it—from the point of view of the giver and the receiver.

The fact is that all success requires risk and disapproval. If you have 100% approval from 100% of the people in your life, then generally you are not taking enough risk; you are playing it way too safe. 

The most successful entrepreneurs and leaders in the past century had fierce opponents and criticism, but they knew in their hearts and minds that their process was right for them. 

  • Columbus was informed the world was flat.
  • Disney was told his theme park idea would never work. 
  • Michael Dell was advised it was impossible to market computers without retail outlets.

Thankfully, they did not listen to their critics. 

It seems that most of humanity’s greatest achievements have been created under great clouds of criticism. The more you are pushing the envelope into greatness, the more likely the criticism will come—mostly from individuals who have little background or expertise in the matters at hand.

Yes, I also can be a critic. I have noticed that I am the most critical is when I am taking things personally; I may lose focus on the goal and get caught up emotionally in the moment. 

Have you ever lived or worked with a full-time critic? Did that make you feel drained of energy?

Remember the time when all customer service programs taught you that the customer is always right? For years I taught that in my training courses—but it is not a true statement. 

  • If you took every customer complaint/criticism as a guide for the way you should run your business, what would you have a few months or years from now? A business that no longer reflects your values and business model, but a business based on all your critical customers. What a mess that would be!
  • And what about all the clients who loved what you were doing and never complained? 

Yes, feedback on service levels, etc., needs to be taken seriously but when clients want to change your business plan/model to serve their agenda, you need to decide which agenda takes priority. In the end the business is there to serve you and those who link best to your values. 

Alan Weiss, author of Million Dollar Consultant, said it best: there are some clients you simply need to let go or fire because they no longer fit your model. Refer them to others who can meet their needs but don’t change who you are to meet their needs.

Courage means having confidence in yourself and being grounded and centered in who you are—not in what your critics say about you. 

The following statement puts criticism into perspective.

Nothing has meaning except the meaning I give it.

Unless you give critics permission to analyze you and your activities, their statements should have little meaning or impact on you.

To help you stand firm in yourself so that criticism will affect you less, consider the following resources to build your confidence and courage. The Self Worth Inventory will help you be aware of how your background or perceptions are affecting your self-worth in five specific areas. 

Take the Values Preference Indicator to be clear about your own values, so that you don’t permit yourself to be influenced by others’ values regarding your life.

If you have not already done so, take the Personal Style Indicator to affirm and own your uniqueness. Too many individuals are trying to be something they are not, instead of playing to their strengths.

In the end, you are your own person. In fact, it is possible that the more criticism you are getting, the more work you are doing and the more impactful you are being, compared to other people.

This Week´s Action Steps

Just Say No to Critics and Criticism!

  1. Criticism is part of someone else’s agenda, not yours.
  2. In spite of how difficult it is, learn never to take what someone says (criticism) personally.
  3. Be aware of the source of most criticism. Individuals playing the victim (blamers and complainers) are the greatest persecutors.
  4. With whom are you hanging around? If they are all polished critics, what is that doing to your personal energy? Is it time for a change of scenery?
  5. Stop talking to uninvited individuals who feel it is their duty to criticize you. Be firm on this point.
  6. The best strategy for handling criticism is to be confident in yourself and your position. Not an arrogant position, a self-assured posture!
  7. Strengthen and build your confidence to stand up to criticism using the following CRG resources: Self Worth Inventory, Values Preference Indicator, and Personal Style Indicator.
  8. All success requires risk and disapproval. If you are receiving little or no criticism, maybe you are playing it way too safe.
  9. Remember: just because someone puts poison on your plate does not mean you have to eat it. Determine how you can reduce adding poison to other people’s plates—if you are inclined to do that.
  10. No, the customer is not always right. Run your life in a way that is congruent with your direction, not the complaints of others.
  11. When you master your response to criticism, please notice the peace and power that gives you.

Until next time, keep Living On Purpose!.

Ken Keis

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