Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Don’t let the critics stop you: 7 Tips for Handling Criticism

“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” cropped

Do you derail your success by listening too much to, or overly seeking, the opinions of others? Do you let negative feedback stop you in your tracks?

Plenty of successful people have received scathing reviews, rejections and public humiliation from peers and critics, but they persevered with their vision anyway. You’ll know some of the more famous ones. Author J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series was rejected many times by publishers who told her there wasn’t a big market for children’s books. American singer Meatloaf was told that he was too fat to make it big, and no one would want to see him perform Bat out of Hell. It was too operatic and over the top they said. Film producer Peter Jackson was cautioned to stay away from his vision for a trilogy and produce The Lord of the Rings as one normal length movie.

Yet they, and others like them, stayed true to their quest, and all went on to be colossal successes.

The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions,” said Leonardo da Vinci. This could be read two ways. The deception could be yours, or it may belong to others who think themselves more knowledgable.

Other people may believe their negative evaluation of you, your ideas, your work. But what if they are wrong? What if your vision, like Leonardo Da Vinci’s was back in the1500’s, is way ahead of the time? I recall it wasn’t so very long ago that the publishing industry said no one would ever read a book on a kindle – let along a phone!

Know when to listen and when to walk away.

Sometimes feedback is helpful. But not if it stops you in your tracks or if you are so consumed with garnering everyones approval you become immobilised. Nobody can stop you except you. You have to ignore your harshest critics. To thy self and to thy vision and belief you must remain true.

Imagine how many of Leonardo’s ideas would never have come to fruition if he’d listened to others. Forge ahead. Blaze your road to success with your victories – even if the victory is just the one you win over your self-doubt, your laziness, your procrastination, your thoughts that you have no talent, or some other self-defeating habit.

What’s worse – the disappointment of criticism and bad reviews, or the bitter, bitter disappointment of a life spent unfulfilled and loaded with regret?

I’m guilty!

I’ve been guilty of letting the opinions of others sway me too much in the past…and I know others do too, which is why I’ve made sure this important point is covered in my book The Art of Success: how extraordinary artists can help you succeed personally and professionally (Available from 4 July on Amazon.)

I realise that most of my life I’ve been seeking validation that I was ‘good enough’ especially when it came to my creativity and in particular my writing. I’ve entered writing competitions, approached editors and story consultants, and other ‘experts,’  in my search to become a successful author. Sometimes the feedback was helpful, but most often I’ve found acting on their advice has taken me further and further away from my authentic voice, and the vision of the stories I wanted to tell.

You’re not good enough – you’re more!

Other people have shared with me that the fear of not being good enough is stopping them from achieving success now. And this often plays out by listening too much to, or overly seeking, the opinions of others. “My own beliefs, some built over the years, many embedded in childhood, are holding me back”, shared one 30 year old women. What we were told as children is often the root cause of the mistaken beliefs we hold today. We’re more than what others think of us. Much more.

Success to this young lady means “validation and self-worth.”

Who controls self-worth? You do! What you say, think, feel and believe about yourself is such a vital component of your success. If you’re self-esteem needs a kick-start, if you mistaken-beliefs are dragging you down – take heart. There are so many skilled professionals who can help your reconnect with your point of brilliance.

What would you do if you thought you would not fail?

If this young lady could do anything, and knew she would succeed, and there were no obstacles, do you know what she would do?


How wonderful! She reminds me of a client I had once who felt the same way. “But I’ve got no talent, “ she told me.

‘How do you know? Where’s your evidence?” I asked.

“I just know. I’ve never learned.”

“So how could you learn?” I asked.

And long-story short, she went to singing lessons and has now performed in musicals and sings regularly as her special joyful hobby.

Don’t let the passionless, envious people win.

“You think you can sing, but you can’t,” our neighbours four-year old child, spat out the window when my daughter Hannah, aged four also, was singing happily on the swing.

Hannah stopped singing, ran inside and cried. This same child also cut off Hannah’s long blonde hair when she went to play one day. An innocent game of hairdressers or one driven by jealously or spite?

Regardless, Hannah hasn’t let that stop her from following her path with heart, nor from being kind and compassionate toward others. What she has learned is to choose her company carefully.

What would you do, if fear was no longer an obstacle or you weren’t worried about criticism?

In 1987 the songwriters Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh composed “Come from the Heart” which included the following lyrics:

You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money
Love like you’ll never get hurt
You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watchin’
It’s gotta come from the heart if you want it to work.

Live with passion!

That’s where following your passion comes in. Passion is love in its most powerful and courageous form. I’ve achieved so many things I never thought I was capable of by following my passion – including public speaking to full-capacity audiences around the world. The saying, “Fake it ’till you make it,” always worked well for me. I felt the fear, and I showed up anyway.”

How do you stay strong in the wake of criticism?

Me, I like to keep collections of good reviews and glowing feedback and read them regularly to boost my self-belief and confidence.

Something I need to do more of is self-publish the books rejected by mainstream publishers. This is something I’ve done successfully with my Mid-Life Career Rescue series.

I also love keeping a file of true stories of others who were criticised and succeeded anyway.

And I look at bad reviews and rejections constructively, and ask: “What is this teaching me? Is there something I need to learn?”

I did this following a Amazon review of my first Mid-Life Career Rescue book, where someone wrote that I waffled. As a result I wrote a shorter book, How to Find Your Passion and Purpose, which became a #1 Amazon bestseller.

Do you fear disappointment?

The respondent to my Art of Success questionnaire, the one who wants to sing, asked me an interesting question, “When you achieve one form of success, how do you not feel disappointed?”

Disappointment following success is not something I’ve thought about. “Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant,” artist Georgia O’Keefee (credited with creating the highest-priced artwork by a female artist in history at US $44.4 million) once said, “There is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing – and keeping your unknown slightly beyond you.”

And that’s exactly what Leonardo did. His obsession with discovering new knowledge born from his own direct experience propelled him forward.

  • All life arises out of choice. What choices are you making now?
  • How can you stay strong in the wake of criticism?
  • How can you do more of what’s working for you, and less of what’s not?
  • What can you start and stop doing to boost your chances of success?

Too many people die with regret, burying their wonderful talents in coffins of disappointment. Whether you succeed or fail is irrelevant. Far better to say at least you tried. And who knows – you may just surprise yourself!

Take the success survey: Unlock the secrets to prosperity, find your point of brilliance and empower your success

Would you like to unlock the secrets to prosperity, find your point of brilliance and empower your success? Take the short success survey here

The Art of Success: how extraordinary artists can help you succeed personally and professionally is available from 4 July on Amazon.

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