28 Mar 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?
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.
Let ‘em hate, still create.
Life is too long to have a job you don’t love. Build one today with this.