Hustle

The simple lesson about haters that it took me 10 years to learn.

We all have the same dream.

If we can figure out our thing perfectly, no one will criticize it.

Our photos will not be criticized.

Our business will not get a negative review.

Our book will skate through Amazon with nothing but 5-stars.

Maybe deep down you know that is impossible, but on some level, when you sit down to create, a small voice pipes up:

“Don’t share something publicly until it’s so good that no one can criticize it.”

That simple sentence has kept many a book stuck in a laptop, many a business stuck in a head and many a painting stuck in the studio.

But is it possible?

Can you create something that will go completely unscathed? Is criticism an indication you didn’t try hard enough? Is negative feedback a sign you made the wrong thing?

Nope.

How do I know?

Because of blog post #872.

The first 871 blog posts I wrote for a site of mine were satire.

For post 872 I invited a friend to write a funny piece about politics. It didn’t take sides. It didn’t argue for policy. It was lighthearted and silly.

The next day, someone on Twitter told me, “Remember when your site was funny and not all political?”

This really surprised me at the time because I was young and dumb and just acquiring my thick Internet skin. I didn’t understand the game. I thought that there was a way to create something that was untouchable by the talons of the world wide webs.

My blog posts were numbered at the time, so the person who was reading #872 could clearly see that 871 others had come before it. This was not a first time reader, this was a long time reader.

I’m not good at math, but I’m positive that 1 out of 873 posts doesn’t mean that my blog is “all political.”

It was in that moment that I realized the lesson that no matter what you do it will be criticized. Slave away for months. Dot every i and cross every t. It is impossible to create something that everyone will like.

Most people stop right there. They get depressed by that truth and decide to stop creating.

What’s the point? It’s just going to be attacked anyway. I might as well not share anything with anyone.

Quitting at that moment is a mistake because on the other side of this idea is an amazing freedom.

Let’s rewrite the sentence, “No matter what you do, it will be criticized.” The new second half of it should be, “so make sure it’s something you’re crazy about in the first place.”

This isn’t a new idea. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized, anyway.” (My heart is a terrible, terrible liar at times so I don’t completely agree with using that as a compass, but the point she was making is very true.)

Some people are going to love what you do. Some are going to hate it.

Every time you make something, this is the reality.

Trying to make 100% of people like your work is not only a silly goal, it’s an impossible one.

When I told the person on Twitter that I disagreed that 1 political post out of 873 means my whole site is political, she apologized. (This was the second time in recorded history that a stranger on the Internet has apologized.)

She said she was having a bad day and took it out on my blog.

Her criticism had nothing to do with the contents of my blog. It wasn’t about me or the guest post.

In order to avoid her criticism, I would have needed to write something that fixed her bad day. Only I didn’t know she existed, which would have made fixing her bad day with the power of my words pretty difficult.

I wish there was a way to avoid criticism. If I knew the secret I could turn it into a course and a webinar and a bunch of digital resources that I sell for $997 today but if you act now I’ll throw in a free 4-page PDF that I’m calling an “e-book.”

If you create anything, you will get criticized. That’s the ticket price for awesome.

Don’t quit.

Let ‘em hate, still create.

P.S.

Life is too long to have a job you don’t love. Build one today with this.

About Author

Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff

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10 Comments

  1. So far, I’ve only had two haters. Both of them had their mind made up about me because of the content of my posts. It’s always interesting that people feel the need to let you know how much they dislike you or your creation. Anyways, I engaged with both of them. It was a great learning experience. I also feel like it was great preparation for the release of my book. You can imagine there may be some negative comments, when publishing a book about, rediscovering my faith after; deserting from the Army, selling drugs, a court-martial and three years in prison. I feel like my skin is thick enough to handle it! I guess if you don’t have any haters, you’re not doing something risky.

  2. Great stuff! I’m about to get started on my big idea, so this was helpful prep. Thanks!

  3. Michael Reply

    Man I needed this today. So you do have magical powers to see what people you never have met are thinking???!! I also thought this post was too political… Seriously though, I have stepped into a new role as a lead pastor and that always requires some changes. Even small things get criticized. Things that might not even really have an eternal impact. I am a WOO (Winning others over) so this has been tough for me at times to handle. I even remind myself of these truths you are talking about but I still get that nagging feeling that someone doesn’t like me or what I am doing. I go all middle school girl and my wife makes fun of me. So thank you for the reminder from someone outside of my own mind. Sometimes when we do awesome stuff, people will hate it.

  4. Hi, Jon.

    Thanks for this encouraging, realistic reminder. I appreciate your thoughtful and humorous posts. I also really appreciated your book Start! Dave Connon

  5. Dawn Reply

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you! These words came at just the right time. I”m about to start a business and this is my greatest fear. Not everyone will like what I do. I know this but there’s just something about hearing someone else say it in a different way that makes it all better. I can move forward! Thank you!

  6. Jon,

    Thank you for sharing your story and for the reminder that we all need!

    I’m finalizing a leadership course for teens right now with a portion devoted to self-esteem and bullying. Your post will provide a great reminder that even adults face this so learning how to deal with it at a young age will make you much more successful.

  7. Jeana Reply

    Thanks, Jon. Great article! This is something we all need to hear over and over and over…

  8. Dee Reply

    Thank you for this. I’ve managed to find haters, even on fairly innocuous Facebook comments. Finally decided it was okay to start blogging. At least then, I’m getting the money from the ads on the sidebar. 😉

  9. Jon, thank you for dealing with this topic on criticism. I just finished your book, Start, and wrote about you in my very first blog that I posted this week. I’ve been doing the same thing for 30 years now and was looking to try something new. Your book gave me the inspiration to act. Not for money or even a new career, but just to start down a path of learning. So I started a blog. It may not go anywhere, but it has energized me and allowed me to not get stuck in the delema of trying to be perfect before I take my first step. Keep writing! Any advice on how to get my blog out there for others to read?