We’ve all experienced people who weren’t picking up what we were laying down. Haters. Doubters. Critics. Tim Tebow has a small armada of such exasperating entities, perhaps more so than any other professional athlete.
Some fault Tebow for not materializing a robust NFL career after a brilliant college football run (capped by winning the Heisman trophy in 2007). Others doubt his ability to make it in professional baseball (the New York Mets signed him in 2016 and he’s been working his way through their farm system).
Still others are rubbed the wrong way by Tebow’s being very open and frequent in talking about his faith or his habit of displaying unswerving optimism.
In a recent press interview detailed by InspireMore, Tebow, in typical upbeat and reflective fashion, shared this dual-sentence snippet of wisdom, which has gone viral:
You’re always going to have critics and naysayers and people that are going to tell you that you won’t, that you can’t, that you shouldn’t. Most of those people are the people that didn’t, that wouldn’t, that couldn’t.
Criticism is a fact of life. And we’re not wired to handle it well. In fact, psychology professor Roy Baumeister says our brains need to experience five positive events to make up for the psychological effect of just one negative event.
So Tebow offers a brilliant way to deal with the reality of criticism: Ignore the boos, because they’re coming from the cheap seats.
Keep that important perspective in mind.
There are many ways you can reframe the way you view criticism. Here are four powerful methods taken from my book, Find the Fire:
1. Know that anything worth doing attracts admiration and criticism.
Would you rather be judged or ignored? These are the consequences of life’s great binary choice–whether to make a difference, or not. Faced with this decision, surely taking on some criticism seems acceptable in comparison. If you want to “dent the universe,” as Steve Jobs once challenged, you’re going to take dents in your armor here and there. No one said it was fair.
In fact, one of life’s great imbalances is the fact that what others risk by criticizing is minuscule compared to what you risk by putting yourself out there (internet trolls I’m looking at you). But don’t let that stop you. Don’t ever let that stop you.
2. Seek improvement, not approval.
This one is my personal favorite. I could never have made the leap from corporate to entrepreneur without following this. When you adopt this philosophy, you’re drawn to criticism as a cradle of insight instead of steering away from it as a source of rejection. Consider what is constructive about criticism, find the nugget of truth in it, and let it elevate you to higher standards.
Don’t think of it as exposing flaws but instead as helping you make new self-discoveries. Let criticism feed you, not your insecurities.
3. Decide who gets to criticize you.
Not all criticizers are created equal, and some shouldn’t even get a seat at the table. Set criteria for those who make the cut, and mentally dismiss the rest (they’ll thus be too busy pounding sand to criticize you anymore).
Mentors are a particularly good choice for those on the short list, because they can give you practice receiving criticism in a safe environment, making it a less frightful experience over time. The mentors I’ve chosen have provided some of the most useful feedback I could want–and I never view it as unwarranted criticism.
4. Stay focused on the conclusion, not the criticism.
When you keep what you’re trying to accomplish in front of you at all times, you’ll speed through the sidebar of criticism. Renowned racecar driver Mario Andretti once shared his number one secret to his success in the sport: “Don’t look at the wall. Your car goes where your eyes go.”
This is particularly poignant when it comes to our fear of criticism. If we take our eyes off the road ahead and what we’re trying to achieve, and instead focus it on the walls of potential criticism all around us, we’ll steer right into those walls. Our misplaced focus on the criticism may well cause us to alter our actions and crash into an outcome that attracts the very criticism we feared in the first place.
Net, you can handle the haters. Don’t be one of those who didn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t.