He sat in my office, and though it was a few months too late to give me feedback and I certainly wasn’t asking for any now that all was said and done and the plan was well in motion, he said “I think you’re making a mistake. I think you should be doing X and Y instead of A and B.”
I sat there dumbfounded for a minute, and then, more calmly than I felt, I said “I’m sorry, I am no longer soliciting feedback on this issue. I asked for your feedback a few months ago, and since you didn’t offer it then, you have no right to offer it now. I don’t believe I’m making a mistake and I’m committed to the decisions I’ve made.”
A few hours later, after he’d left and my gut reaction had settled from seething to just slightly frustrated, it struck me how significant this conversation was. Not that it was unusual to get unsolicited feedback too late from my staff or co-workers – that happens all the time. What WAS unusual though was the fact that, even though it was a frustrating conversation, it had not ONCE caused me to doubt the wisdom of my decision.
I’ve been taking some fairly bold steps in my day-job lately, and though there are lots of supporters for the path I’m forging, there have been a lot of naysayers too. For whatever reason (uncertainty, fear, jealousy, genuine concern – you name it) boldness always brings out the critics. Constructive criticism during the development phase can be a very good thing (it helped make my idea a whole lot better, as a matter of fact), but the "after-the-fact" critiques just feel like rain on someone's parade.
This realization that I’m getting better at handling it and not letting it send me into a spiral of self-doubt and insecurity was a refreshing and welcome shift. For too long, I’ve let fear of criticism, fear of failure, fear of resistance, and fear of embarrassing myself keep me from boldness. I’ve worked a little too hard at making sure all my decisions were met with acceptance rather than resistance. Let’s face it – I just wanna be liked.
But that’s starting to shift and I’m so grateful. The person who sat in my office and critiqued my plan doesn’t have to like me or my plan. I still think it’s the right plan. The person who made negative comments about the video I executive-produced (after it was completed and too late to make any changes) doesn’t have to like it. I still think it’s good.
What do you do with criticism or rejection – especially the stuff that comes too late? Are you able to rise above and keep believing in yourself? Are you able to continue to face the world with boldness and self confidence?
Today, when you begin to let the critics (either external or internal) eat away at your confidence, stand up and say out loud (even if you just do it alone in your bathroom) “I have not given you permission to dump all over my good idea. I believe that it is good and I am committed to seeing it through.”