Standing out sucks.
You’ve got to be willing to stand out. That’s the difference. Here’s the challenge: standing out sucks. Anytime we do something different, anytime we challenge the status quo, even the teensiest amount, we put ourselves on a table... in front of a bunch of hungry people... with really sharp knives… Which, if you don’t want to be eaten, is a terrible place to end up. But, if we switch the focus, if instead of worrying about being EATEN, we focus on FEEDING those hungry people, then, it becomes a little less terrible, albeit no less painful. Here’s what that change sounds like. A) “I don’t want to be eaten!!!!” (yelling with a scared face) to B) “I want to feed and nourish others” (stoically with a stoic face) In A) the worry and the focus is yourself. In B) the focus is using yourself in the service of others. Making choices in the service of others is the mark of a true leader. And, unfortunately, you can’t be a true leader and come out unscathed. Being the polite people that we are, a lot of us would really rather not upset anyone or do anything “out of line”. But, in order to lead, that’s what we must do. The job of a leader is to make choices and anytime we make a choice we become susceptible to criticism. And, being criticized sucks. Therefore, we avoid it a lot of the time and don’t actually lead in any meaningful way. “Michaud”, you might be wondering, “how do I make being criticized suck less, so I can start actually leading?” Great question. We humans like things in groups of three and we dislike criticism. So here’s a treat: a group of 3 tips on how to reframe criticism.
Acknowledge what you’re doing is in the service of others - it’s not about you.
You’re working toward creating change that goes beyond yourself. It is in service of a greater good and the criticism you face as an individual pales in comparison to the good you’re doing at large. The criticism is your entry fee, expect it and accept it - you gotta pay to play
Acknowledge how much people hate change - it’s not about you.
People really hate change and will rally against it. A lot of the criticism you face won’t be about you or your choices at all, it will be about other people hating change and trying to prevent it at all costs. They’ll come around, they almost always do.
Acknowledge the criticism could be well founded - it might be about you.
We all make mistakes and bad choices. Listen to what people are saying with an open mind and if they’re right, acknowledge them and thank them for the feedback then publicly admit you fucked up. We all make mistakes - leaders just own theirs.