What do we do when people respond negatively to our work? How should you respond when, after you put forth effort to make something better, you get snark? How can you pick yourself up, and keep moving? I’d like to share with you a phrase I heard recently from Seth Godin, and it has helped me a lot.
[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]Image courtesy of Cade Roster[/featured-image]
The phrase is: “It’s not for you”.
When we expose ourselves and our work to the criticism of others, it’s a certainty that we’re going to hear something that will be hurtful and unconstructive. Most of those comments come from people who don’t address us directly.
Seth had an interesting take on this. He said that it has been years since he knowingly has read the reviews of his Amazon books. At first, like most authors I’m sure, he would check and feel depressed when he read the snarky, one-star reviews. But over time he had the following epiphany:
I realized that whenever I spoke with great authors, none of them ever said ‘you know Seth, the reason why I became a successful writer is because I read all my one-star reviews and really took my reviewers’ comments to heart’
Seth went on to say that when you make “art” (and here, your art can very much be what you’re creating at work), your art cannot possibly “be” for everyone. So when people react negatively to his work he simply says “it wasn’t for you”.
We have to find the people who it is for. Their reaction is what matters. Sure, we can benefit from constructive comments from those who push us to do better work – that’s different from snark. But know this: if your work has any soul, then it cannot possible “be” for everyone.
I occasionally write an editorial column for my local paper (a selection of those columns are on this website under “Published Columns”). This week I had another column in the paper, and as is usually the case, I got a variety of comments via different channels. Some were energizing and thoughtful, but there also was some snark that was grounded in little other than the writer’s poor reading comprehension and unhappiness.
But that’s ok. The article wasn’t for everyone.
You simply cannot make a difference in your life or your job without leaving people behind. That’s ok. Your work isn’t for them. It’s for you, and it is good. Keep moving.