Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities.
It comes with the territory of sticking yourself out there.
THE SECRET IS: How do you weather that ridicule before it knocks the life out of you?
Try these ideas:
1. Take a bite out of reality. Choosing not to believe in the devil won’t protect you from him. Take it from a guy who’s been mocked pretty much every day of his life for the past decade: Ridicule is rite of passage. It comes with the territory of being successful. And it should be attended to with love, gratitude and respect. Here’s how:
First, consider it an honor to be criticized.
Second, you’re nobody until somebody hates you.
Third, anything worth doing is worth being attacked for.
Fourth, if your dream isn’t being attacked, it isn’t big enough.
Fifth, if everybody loves your work, you’re doing something wrong.
Sixth, if nobody hates your work, you’re not being honest enough.
Once you wrap your head around those realities – and once you make peace with the war against your success – it’s amazing how free you become.
Remember: The more successful you become, the more torpedoes will be shot at you. But being attacked is a sign that you are important enough to be a target. Will you accept the bullets as the price of winning?
2. Seek acceptance, not approval. It doesn’t matter if people like your work. What matters is if they label it as being real. The rest is just gravity. My suggestion: Screw meeting worldly approval. Stop acquiescing to the status quo. Creating a career of approval creates a diminished existence, which creates work destined for mediocrity and doomed to disappoint.
And you know the people I’m talking about: They just sort of stare at you with these judging eyes and crossed arms, as if to say, “What are you going to do about the fact that I don’t like it?”
Answer: Nothing. You’re going to get on with your life and get back to your work. Because life’s too short to let your art live in a desk drawer, too valuable to have lunch with idiots who downsize your dreams, and too precocious surround yourself with people who aren’t open to your energy.
Keep your distance from those who would dampen your ardor, and keep away from those who would discard the highest vision of yourself. Whose voice are you done listening to?
3. Brace yourself for the waves of antagonism. When people meet me and discover I’ve written a dozen books, their gut reaction is to say, “Yeah, but what are you, like, thirty? What did you write twelve books about? How much could you have possibly learned in your meager existence on this planet?”
And even if they don’t say that – I know it’s what they’re thinking. And over time, my response has evolved from, “Wait, why aren’t you more impressed with me?” to:
“You know, there is nothing I could say that would make me good enough in your eyes. So I don’t need to defend my books, and I don’t need to defend my brain. If you don’t want them, don’t buy them.”
And although I rarely take the time or energy to go through that whole thing, sometimes it’s necessary. Sometimes you just have to stare people straight in the eye and say, “Guess what? I don’t have to react to you.” It all depends how much self-control you’re willing to exert.
It’s like staring at plate of cookies after you’ve given up sugar and realizing that they no longer have power over you. Goddamn it’s liberating. Who was the last person you gave your power away to?
4. Consider the source. Let’s be clear: Feedback, at the right time, from the right people – in the right amount – is priceless. That’s the best way to grow, get better and learn who the heck you are.
But if you’re constantly getting rottisserized by people who don’t matter, it’s time to move on. As Walt Whitman wrote in Leaves of Grass, “Dismiss what insults your own soul and your very flesh shall be a great poem.”
When people dismiss your art as craft, hobby and decoration, learn to tell people you respect their opinion of your work – and then get on with your life. Otherwise the nonstop barrage of unhelpful feedback will slaughter your finest artistic impulses.
Remember: People who attack your work are terrified of attending to their own misery. Never let anybody keep you small, scared and dreamless. Will you risk rejection by exploring new artistic worlds or court acceptance by following already explored paths?
5. People will try to push boulders into your path. In nature, those who leave their flock and go their own way get eaten. In the art world, it’s not much different: People are usually unkind to the new. As I read in Art & Fear, “Historically, the world has always offered more support to work it already understands.”
No wonder originality is such a pain in the ass.
But, that doesn’t mean quit. That means instead of waiting for the rest of the world to tell you your work is okay, tap into your sense of interior stability. Instead, follow the path of your heart. Curb your dependency on externals for equilibrium and draw strength from places you love.
Forget about what people will think of you once they see your work. Better to risk executing what matters than to be a victim of resistance. Whose opinion are you willing to ignore?
REMEMBER: Weathering ridicule comes with the territory of sticking yourself out there.
But as much as it stings, think of it this way: Being ridiculed means being noticed.
That’s the other thing Oscar Wilde was right about.
The only thing worse than being talked about – is not being talked about.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Who hates you?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
Never the same speech twice.
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