Dealing with Criticism

June 12th, 2009 by Kevin Ngo

Dealing with criticism is something that we all have to face. One of the toughest challenges when going after a dream is to have people laugh at and ridicule you. Having to deal with setbacks and challenges when pursuing a goal is hard enough, so when you have people who basically tell you to give up and stop dreaming, it just adds to the difficulty. Countless people have given up on their dreams because someone told them they couldn’t succeed. Has this ever happened to you?

It would be great to have a support group where everyone is encouraging and completely believes in your ability to achieve your goals but not everyone is that lucky. I know I’ve been told plenty of times that I would never be successful at anything and that I need to quit dreaming. Dealing with criticism is a lot easier when people who you don’t really care about tell you stuff like this, but when you have people who should be supporting you say those things, it can really be a huge blow to your confidence.

Well, that’s life. When you set a goal, obstacles will start showing up. For some people, they will give up even before they get started because they take their critic’s opinions to be the truth.

Why People Criticize

There are a couple of reasons why people would even criticize your dreams. The first reason is because they don’t want to see you get disappointed which really just means they don’t believe you can do it. The second reason is because they don’t want to be left behind so subconsciously, they want you the fail. The third reason is because… they really do want you to fail. So how do you deal with people who tell you that you will not and cannot succeed in reaching your goals?

Dealing with Criticism

To find out, let’s look at what successful people do. You would think that most of them have a ton of support from people left and right. You’d probably be surprised to find that most of them have had people discourage them. In Thomas J. Stanley’s best selling book, “The Millionaire Mind”, he interviews a bunch of millionaires to try to find out if there are any commonalities between them in order to know what it takes to become a millionaire. One of the questions he asks them is how they handle critics.

Here are some of the things that these millionaires were told.

  • “You will never succeed.”
  • “Your business idea is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard”
  • “Without a college degree, you have no chance of being successful in life.”
  • “There is just no hope for you ever succeeding.”
  • “Your family is poor. Your dad is poor. What makes you think you can be rich?”

So how did these millionaires deal with criticism and comments like these? They either ignore it or use it to help drive them even harder to succeed in order to prove those critics wrong. There is a saying, “Success is the sweetest revenge.” This is what drives many of them, to see the looks on their critics’ faces when they become successful. Who knows how many millions of people had given up on their dreams just because someone criticized them. People who don’t believe in you will always be plentiful. Just see it as part of the game. Without obstacles, success wouldn’t taste as good.

The worst time to have someone criticize your dreams is when you are in the middle of a setback. Why? Because you are more open to actually believe what they are saying to you. These are those moments when your confidence is usually at its lowest so dealing with criticism is the toughest during these times. Add to that the “I told you so’s” of critics and you have the ingredients for the perfect dream killer. Whether or not you will achieve your goals will largely depend on how well you can hold onto the belief you have in yourself when times are tough. This is why it helps tremendously to surround yourself with people who will encourage you during these times.

Opinions Are Just Opinions

When dealing with criticism, you must realize that people’s opinions of you are just that, opinions. Just because someone tells you they don’t think you will ever amount to anything, it doesn’t mean they are right. You must develop unshakable confidence and belief in yourself. There are tons of successful people who have been told they are a piece of crap their whole lives. Like the millionaires mentioned earlier, you must learn to either ignore those opinions or use it to work even harder and give you more reason to not give up.

It’s only when you start to doubt yourself and believe what they say, will their opinion of you start to shape your reality. Don’t let this happen. Don’t give them the satisfaction of being right.

What Do They Know?

There was a story of a boy who had a project where he had to draw a future house. He ended up drawing a ranch. When the teacher saw his drawing, she told him that he had to redo it because it was ridiculous to think that a boy from a poor family like him would ever become successful enough to own a ranch. He never redid the project. He turned it in as it was because that was his dream. She gave him an F for it.

Years later, he invited that teacher and her current students on a field trip. The field trip was to his beautiful ranch. When the teacher saw how successful he had become, she apologized to him and wondered just how many kids’ dreams she may have destroyed because she taught she could predict someone’s future just by looking at their current conditions.

The Future is Still Unwritten

The story probably isn’t exactly the way I just wrote it. I forgot the name of the story/book so I just wrote it from what I remembered, but the basic lesson is the same. Too many times, people will look at you for who you are today and try to predict where you will be 10 years from today. The problem with doing that is that a lot can change in just 1 year, let alone 10 years. What you have demonstrated up until today has little to do with what you can achieve and accomplish a year from today.

Tony Robbins said it best when he said, “The past does not equal the future.” You can fail for the last 30 or 50 years of your life and it still wouldn’t matter in terms of what you can accomplish in the future. Who would have guessed at the time that a man who failed so many times in his life from business failure to political failure would become our 16th president? Who would have guessed at the time that a young woman with such bad circumstances would grow up to be one of the most powerful women in the world from doing a talk show?

Who you are today has little to do with who you can become in the future because you can decide to take actions today that will lead you down an entirely different path than you were previously heading. Don’t let other people’s opinion of you make you doubt yourself because if you do, you are letting them control your fate. The decisions you make and actions you take is what will determine whether or not your dreams will become a reality.

Here is one of my favorite quotes by Les Brown that sums it up.

“Someone else’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.”

The next time someone tries to predict your future, tell them to use their “special abilities” to pick the winning lottery numbers. That should tell you just how accurate their silly predictions are.

Until next time…

Love Life. Do Good. Live Well.

Related Posts to Dealing with Criticism:

The Number One Factor of Success

Believe in Others Dreams

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