Jobs was fired, Gates was sued, and Trump was condemned. What do these three examples have in common? In all three cases, other people, driven by their own agendas, did some temporary damage to three business leaders. However, the subsequent actions have led to massive successes in those business leaders' lives.
A mentor once told me, “The greatest thing about business is the people. The worst thing about business is the people." There have been more than enough articles written that have proven that anyone who is blazing a trail, disrupting the status quo or making rain, is going to attract criticism—in all shapes and sizes.
In my ongoing studies of the world’s greatest leaders, I have realized that there are actually three strong reasons that we need to thank our critics:
1. Personal growth
We are all energy systems in nature and as such, we only exist in one of two ways—growth or decay. We are either growing or struggling to see the light. Unfortunately, human beings only grow when there is a slight whiff of danger in the air. We only grow when our rhythm is disrupted—and critics have a way of doing that. Firstly, understand that if you are doing anything great, you will attract critics. The critics will attack you personally and professionally.
What experienced entrepreneurs realize is that a healthy dose of criticism is an indication that you have succeeded—but it still hurts. When something hurts, we learn from it and we grow. Jobs came back to Apple with his lessons learned and turned the company into one of the most valuable in the world. Like the child who burns his hand on the stove, we tend not to repeat the actions that cause us pain, most of the time!
Whether you’re building a company or pursuing a dream, it’s not easy. In business, we will face constant surprises and attacks that will often leave us weeping like babies (when no one is looking, of course), but every experience makes us stronger.
Every critical word increases our desire to succeed. Every competitive attack thickens our skin to the point where nothing can shake us. Our critics are actually doing us a favor by increasing our resilience to attack.
After a few similar attacks or harsh words from the haters, we tend to secretly evaluate what has been said or done to us. Often, it’s a subconscious response to the stimuli and reveals itself in phrases like, “Ouch that hurt; how can I avoid that again? What can I do differently?"
True entrepreneurs will do deep analysis in the aftermath of an attack and re-evaluate their business and plans. Often, these post mortem sessions lead the entrepreneur to make changes in their lives and businesses that lead to even greater prosperity. Jobs started Next and wound up working with Pixar before being welcomed back; Gates is now arguably the greatest philanthropist that the world has ever seen; and Trump is running for president.
The innovations, changes, and advancements that have come out of the critic’s acts are too many to list, but most are incredibly positive.
Think about your own career and life. Pause for a second and think about the greatest attack that you have ever endured. I would suggest that the vast majority of our critic’s actions have actually ended up making us better, stronger, and more prosperous. So, let’s take a second and genuinely thank our haters, critics, and naysayers for the positive impact they have had on our lives.
Finally, if you are in the middle of an attack right now, seek out the guidance of a trusted mentor, and keep your head up. This too shall pass!
Copyright © 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article also appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.