‘The only way to avoid criticism is to say nothing do nothing and be nothing’ – Aristotle.
Wow what a quote and sometimes I do feel like that – you know those days when anything you say or do just seems to come against resistance from those around you? Sometimes well intentioned comments to ‘help’ you and off course we do need to take counsel from those we trust and respect to guide us sometimes. I’m talking more about those who probably know very little about what you’re trying to do but they certainly have something to say about it!
I’ve found this in all walks of life – when I worked in a large corporate company there were plenty to criticise but not so many to support when you needed it. In my family life as an adopter (or any parent actually) there’s always plenty of people who have an opinion on how you are raising your children. And finally now as an entrepreneur there’s not only those external voices but the many internal criticisers who love to throw their two pence in when I’m at my most vulnerable.
There’s a concept within coaching that we talk about called Gremlins or Saboteurs. You may have heard me talk about this before so apologies for those who have. These are the voices in our head – yes we all have them – that hold us back in some way. They usually poke their heads up when we are trying to do something new or change in some way. They love the status quo. They love to see us plodding along and not having much impact on the world around us. We all have different Gremlins and they are personal to us, but some of the common ones say things like “who do you think you are to do that?”, “you think people will think you have anything to say on that subject?”, “you’ll never be able to make this work”, “see I told you it wouldn’t work, it never does for you”….and on and on – recognise them?
There’s many times in my life when I’ve been aware of those voices and they have stopped me really moving forward. However over the last few years – particularly since I became aware of this through coaching, I’ve made a stand with them and said – you know if I feel I want to do something new I will do it, even if I’m terrified I will find a way. And I have to say that has been the case, when I look back on my life I think I’ve been brave and stepped out of my comfort zone many times. BraveHeart was such a great name for our business in this work with vulnerable children as I can see the bravery in so many people connected with this work. The children of course we can see that daily – the fight to survive and to thrive against all odds sometimes, the adopters or carers that try to do the best for them, and those working with them on a regular basis at school to try and teach them and help them develop in all areas. I am stunned by the bravery I see and I know that for many this quote at the top has not stopped you. You may get criticism but actually when you do it means that you are making a difference in someone in someway. If you sit back and do nothing in fear of what others will think then you are doing yourself and the children a disservice.
So when someone criticises you this week just remember – you are making a difference to someone in someway, keep going and be brave!