I got my first negative Amazon review on my book this week. Ok, so not really negative, but 3 stars instead of 5. She liked the book, but said there wasn’t enough for her mindset. My first inclination was to immediately comment, pointing out that 5 of my 16 chapters are entirely devoted to mindset, and that what’s between our ears is a huge part of all the pages. I wanted to defend the intent of the book, which was not only to teach people the tactical know-how to build a business like ours, but also how to work on our mindset so we can do the really big stuff.
We all put ourselves out there every day, and when we or our work is misunderstood or criticized, it can make us go on the defensive. Writing a book has certainly flexed my vulnerability muscle. This week I resisted my knee-jerk inclination to explain and defend, and it has everything to do with our son Nate.
Recently our 5th grader confided to John and me that for the last month he’s been teased by three girls in his class…a lot. For his haircut. For being in theater. For not doing better at a game in gym class. He told us that he’s been trying to defend himself against the girls’ taunts by explaining himself:
“The woman who cuts my hair wanted to try something new.”
“I like to sing and I like the people I get to be in plays with.”
“I fell off my bike this weekend, and I can’t run fast right now.”
Nate has become heartbroken because these girls, despite his efforts to put his best self out there every day, don’t seem to get him. Or if they do, they don’t like what he stands for. John and I first coached him on how to work with the right people at his school to get this behavior to stop without being known as the new kid who tattles. And then I turned to perhaps the most important lesson in all of this for him:
Not everyone is going to understand what you’re putting out in the world. Not everyone is going to love what you have to offer. Not everyone is going to “get” you. And that’s ok.
We can’t control what people think of us and what we do. All we can control is who we are, what we stand for and what we put out there. Of course, we should listen to how others respond to us to make sure that what we’re doing isn’t hurtful or disrespectful. But if we know we’re being authentic and doing our best to put good into the world, then we’re doing our job as humans.
I learned this through seven years of building my business. Nate getting teased and the 3-star review are really no different than the countless Nos and the Not Right Nows I’ve gotten over the years. With each one I did take a minute to check in with myself to review if my approach or intent needed refining, but then I moved on. If I had invested time responding to each No by explaining and defending in an attempt to be understood, I wouldn’t have had the time to find all the people who are really into who I am and what I’m doing. If I would’ve let each No increase self-doubt and shake my vision of what I was trying to build, it would’ve sucked all my energy. And it certainly wouldn’t have allowed me to touch as many people as I have and have as much fun and fulfillment along the way.
Imagine how much more good we could all put out in the world if we didn’t give the critics and the naysayers any power over us. How much more passion and authenticity could we put towards the things we love and are trying to build. If we had the courage to put ourselves out there, knowing that not everyone will get us.
Instead of writing a comment to the reviewer, I did what I told Nate to do—I expressed gratitude. Just as he should be grateful that there are people at his school who want to help him navigate challenges, and that he has many new friends who love all the things he is, I’m grateful too. Grateful that I had the cojones to actually write a book and that people are actually spending some of their precious time on Earth reading. Grateful that my 3-star reviewer got enough out of what I wrote to give it 3 stars, and took her precious time to write a review. Grateful that I didn’t write the book for reviews, but because I had some things I had to say and I hoped it would help some folks.
Are you letting what others think to impact your emotional state and energy levels, how you spend your time and how much of you that you put out in the world? If so, comment below how you’re going to take back your power and tell us how you can express gratitude instead of feeling rejected or misunderstood. Let’s lean on each other’s strength to have the courage to keep putting ourselves out there. Because the world needs all of us to share our authentic selves now more than ever.
How’s that for mindset?