Criticism is an engine for either success or failure. As with every circumstance in life, one has the option of converting the experience into an advantage or a disadvantage; a personal asset or a liability.
Nobody really enjoys criticism. It can be a very uncomfortable experience. But, for the high achiever, it becomes an asset in their quest to take their success to the next level.
Achievers understand that in order to progress they need to continue to put themselves out there in order to make an impact. With that ever widening output of energy, comes the opportunity to be seen, heard and judged. It takes courage, definiteness of purpose and a grand passion to make a difference, in order to put yourself out there, butt naked for the world to see.
Being criticized is a sign that you are indeed putting yourself out there. You’re going for the gold. Conversely, if you are fearful of criticism, you may be avoiding doing what you inherently know needs to be done in order for you to take yourself to the next level of growth in your life.
Whether you are putting yourself out there and feeling the heat of criticism or you are fearing the criticism and are stuck in a rut, below are the top five ways to crush it with criticism.
Five Ways to Convert Criticism into Competitive Advantage and a Long-Term Personal Asset:
- Accept it as Necessary for Personal Growth:
Change only comes when we are pushed outside of our comfort zone. Criticism does just that. It provides us an opportunity to take personal stock of our ideas, actions, habits and behaviors and make necessary adjustments in order to grow and become better equipped to achieve the success desired. And, in that stock taking process, a greater strength, confidence and determination takes root furthering your ability to achieve your goal.
- Act Don’t React:
Avoid the immediate knee jerk reaction to defend yourself or go on the offensive. Reacting comes from fear and not from faith in yourself, your ideas, ideals, etc. and will only derail you from the ability to seize the positive opportunity inherent in the criticism. Overreacting will cause criticism to become a disadvantage and liability in your quest for success.
- Feel Your Feelings, but Don’t Allow Them to Paralyze You:
Hey, we are human beings having a human experience. Our feelings sometimes get hurt when we hear something that we interpret as negative about ourselves, our life or our work. Deal with those feelings quickly and effectively by taking a quiet time out to reflect, engaging in a positive stress busting activity like physical exercise or talking your feelings out with someone who you know is safe for you to share your feelings with.
- Engage in Rational Analysis:
Once you are in a calm non-reactive state, take an honest, rational appraisal at the criticism received and decide what, if any, is food for positive modification, shift or change. The goal here is to be open minded enough to the possibility that there may be gold to mine from the criticism received. Keeping in mind that you are never going to satisfy everyone nor is everyone going like you, respect or admire you. Changing merely to people please over sticking to your values and goals is a set-up for future failure.
- Make Friends with Criticism:
Begin the process of making criticism your friend by understanding that the amount of criticism received is a measure of how effective you’re being at putting yourself out there and the degree of impact you are making in order to achieve your goal.
If your goal is to avoid criticism, then in the words of Aristotle,
“There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, Say Nothing, Be Nothing.” Aristotle
In closing, my shocking confession: I was so shocked when I was being criticized in an open environment as a liar, thief and a fraud. It wasn’t just a verbal attack. The parties misappropriated photos, articles and even used a covert video taken of me to “support” their allegations of my shoddy character. I was being dragged through the mud for the persons aim of financial gain. After my initial outrage, sadness set in. I was saddened that people could do this—cause harm for their unfair or unwarranted gain. It was a long drawn out ordeal. But, what I learned from the experiences was invaluable. I learned to stand up for myself, my rights and not give in to fear. I learned not to hate or retaliate, no matter what, because you just don’t know what the people on the other side have gone through that has made them the way they are. I realized, the more you forgive the freer you become. Also, that the more success you have, the more you are exposed to those who want to capitalize on your hard work and success. Lastly, I’ve learned to be grateful for the success achieved rather than embittered by the challenges that come along with it.