[This article first appeared on Medium and is reprinted with permission]
A common trait of successful entrepreneurs is their ability to throw caution to the wind and ignore critics who discourage their big idea. The mindset needed to not internalize the reactions of others can be difficult to achieve, especially for women. We care what others think. Often, we care a lot more than our male counterparts do. Our inherent need to connect kicks in and with it the desire to be liked. When we get constructive or negative feedback or are discouraged by someone, it can challenge that need.
One thing that many guests who join me on She Said/She Said Podcast say is that their goal, their mission, and/or their “why” is too powerful to let others stand in their way.
I recently sat down with Flower Magazine editor-in-chief Margot Shaw who reminded me of this. She created Flower Magazine out of frustration at not being able to find what she was looking for. While that seems reasonable enough, she did so at the height of the financial crisis and with no publishing experience — at all! One can safely assume that many people around her were skeptical. Margot readily admits that their skepticism was not without merit, but that her faith in the idea and in the important niche her idea would fill is what kept (and keeps) her going. She also used the advice and input she received to grow the knowledge she didn’t have and to build a team of individuals who had skills she didn’t. Her instincts have been more than validated as Flower Magazine continues to grow and has increased its publishing schedule despite a significant overall downturn in print media.
It takes practice not to care, to care less, or to not take how much we care to heart when others discourage or criticize us.
In creating the She Said/She Said podcast — something that I am very passionate about — those first negative, skeptical comments were painful. Ultimately, I used them for what they were “data” and have continued to fine tune my conversations, the content, and guests, while at the same time asking for and getting lots and lots of feedback from people who really like the idea and want to help me grow it. Now, after almost two years in front of the mic and more than 80 episodes recorded so far, I’m more confident in my own skill and in what I believe my most loyal listeners and followers are looking for.
Practice helped me build the confidence that I needed to differentiate between the good, constructive feedback and the negative and useless comments.
For me, and so many of the women who join me on She Said/She Said, the trick is balancing “input” from those who have no real interest in the idea or who aim to harm it against constructive feedback from those who care and want to see it succeed. Getting this right is a skill, something we get better at with more practice. By thinking of it as a skill, it reminds us that we have more control over our emotions and reactions than we might initially think. That’s empowering!
It’s also important not to equate discouragement or constructive feedback as an assessment of our personal value. Rather than immediately assuming there is something wrong with you when someone discourages or disagrees with you, or that you are somehow less valuable because someone doesn’t like your idea, change your mindset. Your initial reaction should be this is input and data — a type of feedback. You’ll always have to distinguish good feedback from bad, but the exercise of depersonalizing all input will make you, and your idea, better (and leave you happier as well).
Harnessing a big dream and bringing it to life is challenging, but so worth the struggle. Collect the input, consider the source, use what makes sense to improve your idea (ignore the rest), stay focused on your “why,” don’t internalize or ruminate over the input/feedback, and move on.
You’ll find more terrific perspective like this on She Said/She Said Podcast (including my entire conversation with Margot Shaw). Listen on Itunes, GooglePlay, Stitcher or wherever you download your podcasts. And, check out the website www.SheSaidSheSaidPodcast.com where you’ll find our entire line up of conversations (almost 80 and counting!) with inspiring, insightful women who are having a positive impact and whose advice and perspective is empowering, candid, and thoughtful. Please be sure to sign up for updates.
Wishing you much success as you bring your dreams to life and work to share them with the world!