“You need to think about who you are…” she said.
Her words caught me off guard. Admittedly I had felt a little lost over the last year between matters of the heart and career, but in no way did I think I had lost sight of who I am.
“…because I don’t know who that is anymore” she continued.
“Ok….” It was all I could muster out.
“You think you’re up here,” as she raised her hand high in the air, “and you come off as being better than everyone else. You act like it’s the ‘Amy show’ and if you’re not the center of attention, you can’t handle it.”
That’s not who I am, I thought. Fuck. Is that really how others are seeing me?
Last December when these words were said to me, I remember feeling sick to my stomach. I tried to recall every interaction with my colleagues to see where I may have worded something that could have come across as arrogant. I tried to think of any situation in which I was trying to squash someone else so I could get ahead. I spent the entire month of December quiet, and quite frankly depressed. I told myself if I shrunk who I was and kept to myself then I wouldn’t come across as arrogant or egotistical.
In the months that followed, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what was said to me and what it means. While it took a lot of unraveling, I’ve come to realize, that is not who I am – and that me playing small serves no one.
Instead of finding instances where I was putting myself above others, I recalled countless times I offered to help others. Whether it was promoting their classes, collaborating, taking their class, helping clean up or master a new skill, putting people below me was just not something I did. *huge sigh of relief there*
Beyond that, I learned that haters are gonna hate….and why that’s actually that is a good thing.
Haters Gonna Hate
In his book, “Outliers: The Story of Success,” Malcom Gladwell talks about how it takes 10,000 hours of deep practice to achieve mastery and whether we’re just looking to stay true to who we are or we have a bigger goal of producing an album, writing a book or starting a business – for those of us who want to be the best at what we do, it’s our critics, not our supporters, who are the ones most likely to motivate us to put in those 10,000 hours of practice. They’re the ones who are gonna have us realign to what we want. To do the work when it’s hard. To stay true to what’s important to us and to ourselves throughout the process.
Think about it. Your loyal fans…they love you. Your loyal fans will tell you you’re right and you’re wonderful and how amazing you are – and this doesn’t mean you aren’t. I’m sure you are everything they tell you. But hearing what’s working and what’s good doesn’t take you next level. It keeps you status quo. If it’s working, why bother changing anything you do?
If how you’re teaching, leading, living is in other words “great”, why bother thinking about how you could be a better version of yourself or how you can improve your business or project?
What’s comfortable keeps you comfortable.
Your fans may support and sustain you, but your haters will challenge you every step of the way and will force you to put up or shut up.
Every top achiever throughout history has had their critics – even the greats like Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs and Tony Robbins, people that are considered to be wildly successful, if not the best in their chosen fields.
Criticism is the price you pay for taking yourself, your business, your brand to the next level. It’s the inevitable shit sandwich that comes along with excellence. In fact, there’s a direct correlation between the amount of success you enjoy and the number of critics you have.
Hard Truth: If you can’t handle being talked about, you’re not ready for success.
If you’re average, hate to break it to you, but no one will judge or hate you. Chances are, they won’t even notice you.
But, when you’re onto big things…people notice – and they talk.
It’s why champions have learned to grow to respect their haters – they’ve learned that you can’t achieve greatness without criticism. Shepherd boy David needed Goliath and the Philistines to become King David. Muhammad Ali needed Joe Frazier and George Foreman to become the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time). Michael Jordan and the Bulls needed Patrick Ewing and the Knicks.
Criticism holds the mirror up against you every step of the way and your critics will force you to prove it or move it.
Use Their Fuel To Make Your Fire
3 Reasons Why Criticism is the Key to Success
It forces you to get honest
Negative criticism grabs your attention and forces you to listen. But, you can choose to casually dump it to the wayside, or you can take a moment to really ask yourself, “What truth is there to this?”
In its most basic sense, criticism is a wakeup call to get introspective and to see if we’re aligned with who we want to be and our vision/goals. Suffice it to say, there might not be anything true about what is being said and that’s fine. But at least you’ve given yourself a chance to get honest with yourself about the situation or what was said. And, if there is some truth to the criticism, it forces you to own up to the work you need to do.
It helps you improve and stay humble
Let’s get real: even if you are really good at what you do, there is almost always someone that is better (which, by the way, is also a good thing). My teacher once said, “If you’re ever the smartest or most talented person in the room, you’re in the wrong room” and I think there’s a lot of merit to that. Being around and seeing people who are better than us – especially when it comes to doing the things we want to do – forces us to get curious, think outside the box and put in the work.
And, even if you are the best today, you can’t remain the best forever. You’ve got to always be in the game of improvement
When you can objectively look at the criticism and identify the faults, you can more quickly correct them and get yourself on the track toward success. And, if the comments hold no merit, it still allows you to re-evaluate who you are, what you stand for, and what you’re going for.
It gives you the determination to prove your worth (and reminds you you’re on the right track)
Some of the greatest accomplishments have been made as a result of motivation that comes from criticism or haters. Criticism forces you to stretch your limits and in the process, you become so unbelievably focused on your goal that you achieve far more than you would have had there been no one to question you or put you down.
Remember, they can doubt you, criticize you, fight you every step of the way – but they can never stop you, unless you allow them.
Haters are a natural part to the growth of your business or career or who you’re becoming – and when you’re good, you will surely be followed by criticism. Use that to fuel your fire, to fan your flames and to burn your light a little bit brighter…because the world needs your special something in the way that only you can do.
Haters are gonna hate…but actually, that’s a good thing.
Just keep doing you boo,