It’s likely I don’t even need to tell you this, but I like to hang around in various entrepreneurial groups online (especially on Facebook) and in person. Surrounding yourself with people at all different stages of their professional journeys is wonderful – it bathes you in knowledge and experience, and exposes you not only to people who can help you, but people who could also use your help.
Like a big friendly ladder where everyone strives to help the person below them make it to the next rung.
“Yes, Haidar,” I hear you say. “I’m used to seeing your sweaty, foul-mouthed noggin all over social media. What’s the point?”
Well, there’s a certain quote people like to attribute to the philosopher Aristotle that forms the basis of today’s blog.
In reality it was coined by American publisher Elbert Hubbard… and it’s this:
“To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
Yes! Today we’re going to talk about haters!
Criticism vs. Hate
See, within the entrepreneurial and professional circles I mentioned, there’s always talk of haters. With creation comes criticism – writers, filmmakers and artists aren’t the only ones who have to face it.
No matter what you do, if you’re proactive then you’re going to get people who criticise your methods, your skills, your personality and everything else.
It could be a client who sends work back to you with a ton of suggested changes. It could be a boss who thinks your reports aren’t quite up to snuff. It could be a team-mate who thinks your form is off this season.
Criticism is good – when it’s constructive. When it genuinely points out flaws and opportunities for improvement. It helps you zero in on your goals more precisely. Constructive criticism is gold – and a crucial element on the path to success.
And then there are haters.
The colleague who sits opposite you in the office, taking every asinine excuse they can muster to take a pop at you. The troll who haunts your social media or email inbox every day just to tell you how full of shit you are. The guy who haunts your Amazon book listings, dropping 1 star reviews on everything and does nothing but rant about how much he hates your guts.
The boss who constantly picks fault with your every move of the scalpel, the way you spoke to that patient, and how your otherwise successful surgery didn’t 100% match every single protocol.
These people are annoying, and they can make daily life a slog. That’s the hater’s goal: to drag you down and beat you into submission. To convince you that you will never be the person you want to be and enjoy the successes you want to enjoy. To destroy everything about you and satisfy their own needs.
The psychology behind such behaviour is not something we’re going to explore today. Instead, we’re going to talk about handling these people yourself.
Haters: A Sign of Success?
When a critic becomes a hater, they’re often driven by a mixture of fixation and opinion – an opinion that’s incompatible with yours. As human beings, we’re blessed with the ability to think at extremely elevated levels. To believe what we want to believe, to form our own intellectual outlooks on life… and even to change our minds when compelling discussion takes place.
Life is fluid, and our thoughts are never set in stone. Our convictions, however, become our message – what we put out into the world. We all want our message to be positive, to help and serve our audience.
And when you get haters, that means your message is being heard. You’re having an impact – to such a degree that people are reacting strongly to it.
Yes, it wears you down. Yes, haters often stand out and make the biggest impact on you as an invidual. It hurts. It puts you off your game and makes you question the path you’re on…
But if your haters are a vocal minority, chances are you’re doing well.
Because your audience is your audience. You can’t please everyone, so don’t try to. Attempting to accommodate the haters and change a) your message and b) how you deliver it does nothing but water down your efforts.
You become thinned out. Overstretched, like a deflated balloon pulled out so far you can see right through it.
And when you change so much that you blend in just to satisfy the wishes of a few, you melt into the background. A pile of sludge that everyone walks around. You lose the impact that brought these haters to you in the first place.
That’s exactly what they want you to do: sit down, shut up, and stop standing out.
So go back to that quote at the beginning: To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.
Would you rather have the right people queueing at your door for what you have to offer – your individual style and methods – or would you rather be a trained monkey, putting on a show just to make the masses happy… and lying to yourself the entire time?
I think we both know which one I prefer. And which one you prefer, also.
Of course, when the majority of the feedback you’re getting is negative, chances are you have some big truths to face. Being pig-headed and refusing to acknowledge this will often lead to your downfall.
So my advice to you today is to love your haters. Embrace them, acknowledge them – but refuse to be dragged down by a vocal minority.
Brush them aside and keep on rocking. There’s nothing wrong with disagreement, and the wrong people for you are simply the wrong people for you. They can waste their time firing shots, but your time is precious. Don’t hand it to them.
They’re nothing more than a signal you’re being heard. A quick siren blast; in the air for a moment and then gone.
Always listen to and acknowledge constructive criticism, and use it to improve – but don’t fold to hate. I know it can be difficult, and if you’re struggling with such things then by all means contact me and have a good vent. We all need it once in a while.
And as always – unlike the haters – keep your third eye open.
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