Try this experiment some time – not right now, because I want you to pay attention to this posting.
Go to the web site of your favorite news outlet, whether it’s your local TV station, newspaper or national site. Look for any news story where they allow comments. Then, read the comments.
How long did you last before you were nauseous? Yeah. Me too.
I learned a long time ago that, any time you take action in a public forum, whether that is at work or on the internet, some folks will offer a critique. Their intention is to help you learn and grow. They respond to you from a place of caring. I love a good critique because I love to learn.
However a good number of people, no matter what you do in a public forum, are going to criticize you. Their intent is to pull you down. They react out of fear. This is especially true of forums that allow anonymous comments, but sometimes the not-so-anonymous people will criticize you as well.
When you engage fully with your strengths, you create such a ripple in the world, it is worthy of a remark. As legendary runner Steve Prefontaine said:
To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.
To live fully is to be brave. When someone offers a critique, we must keep our hearts open in order to allow the critique to come in so that we can learn from it. When we learn, and grow, and the next time we express our gifts, we’ll be even more remarkable.
When someone offers a criticism, we must be brave enough to return love for hate. Choosing our way, in love, in the face of criticism is the only way for dealing with critics.
In the face of criticism, it can be tempting to pull back, and to do nothing that is worth remarking on. But, that’s not why we were put on this earth, is it?
A few days ago I was creating a work request for the design of a book cover. I filled in the description of the colors and fonts and all of the other technical specifications. Then, as part of the description, I wrote this:
I want the reader to *almost* feel like they would be embarrassed to be seen reading this book on the train, but at the same time, they hope someone asks them about it. The cover should be worth a stranger remarking on. In short, it should be remarkable.
Maybe we won’t achieve that, but why not be remarkable? When I’m tempted to pull back, to hide my light so that others won’t bother with me, I remember this quote from Sean McCabe.
If your work is strong enough for someone to hate you, it’s strong enough for someone to love you. The middle is what you should fear.
So, go ahead. Put yourself out there today. Live fully in your strengths. Do something of note. Be brave and wise.
But above all, be remarkable.
Tony Loyd is the CEO of Culture Shift, a Minneapolis-based consultancy specializing in strategic planning, organizational design, talent management and leadership development. Mr. Loyd has held executive leadership positions in Organizational Development with John Deere, Medtronic and Buffalo Wild Wings. Follow Tony on LinkedIn and Twitter.