One of my all time favorite authors is Jack London. I just love the guy's books. And I once had this privilege of going to the Jack London Museum up in northern California. And being there was fun cause you could see where he lived. But more interesting was this one area where you could see the rejection letters that he received. There were over 500 of them. Now this was a guy who had to push through a lot of rejection and critique in order to perform his craft. And regardless of what you and I want to do, we're gonna face the same. That's the reality of doing something creative. Sometimes we don't do creative things because we're afraid of that rejection and afraid of that critique. And rightly so. If you get critique that's too hard or maybe you get it too early it can crush your spirit. It can crush your dreams. But the thing is that it's not just about silencing the critics. We need some of it as well. I know this from teaching photography. And over the decade that I taught photogr...
aphy I saw students who were criticized or their work was critiqued and they got better. Without that they wouldn't have gone anywhere at all. So what I think we do is rather than just get rid of critique we need to figure out how to relate to this thing. In order to talk about that let me share with you a historical story. Now this isn't necessarily about the specifics of the story, but about the concepts that we're gonna extract from it and that we can apply to our own life. Okay, so let's go back in time to the 1500's. And in the 1500's there was a Pope that came up with this office. And the office or this role was called the Promotor Fidei, or the Advocatus Diaboli. The Devil's Advocate. That's where we get that term. Now this person's job, they were there to help with this process of the canonization of saints. Now just stick with me for a second. The idea was someone would say "Hey we should canonize this person. "We should say this person's a saint". The Devil's Advocate was the one who said "No we shouldn't. "Here's why we shouldn't do this thing". They were the critic, right? And many people say because of that role that particular process had some integrity to it because there was this check and balances to what they did. Well flash forward a few centuries. That office was dissolved. Many people say that because of that, that whole process was watered down. Whether or not that's true isn't the point. But there's something interesting that happens when we have a devil's advocate who enters the scene. When we have that critic who helps us refine our craft. I've experienced this myself. I've had those mentors who said "Chris you're doing this wrong". At first it hurts, right? Later though I am so grateful, deeply grateful for their words. Some critique coming from the right person is good. Then what about that critique that you get blindsided with? How do we deal with all of that? The worst and most scathing critique I received was from, well it doesn't matter who it's from, but it's from a client. And I received this and it really hurt. And I couldn't figure out how to process it at all. I needed some time of course to let it kind of sink in. Let me think about it. Eventually I needed a strategy to figure out how to handle this thing. So here what I want to do is talk about how you can have some strategies yourself to handle the critique that's inevitably, invariably gonna come your way. So here's the first one. You can adopt a paradigm or a mindset for interpreting the critics or the critique that you'll receive. I like how the bestselling author Paul Coelho does this. When asked "Hey Paul, how do you deal with the critics?" He says "Hey, I'm a lamppost. "I'm gonna shine light. "And the critics, they're dogs. "The critics are gonna do their thing regardless "but I'm gonna still stand tall and shine light". By having that perspective when those rogue criticisms come his way, it's okay. Or maybe perhaps another way. You could say "Hey I'm a mountain biker. "I need to wear a helmet. "So if I fall that thing's gonna protect me from "that criticism doing too much damage there". Another I wrote down is say "Hey, you know what? "Some criticism is toxic and I "just need to keep it out of reach". I like how one of my friends, whose really creative, thinks about toxic criticism. Here's what he says. "I don't respond to anyone who's a hater. "Otherwise it fuels them and then I just feel bad". He says "If I do respond I'll just say "'Thanks for your feedback'". End of sentence. And he doesn't give them any ammunition, no attacking, no retaliation, no little smile and a wink. He just lets it be what it is. And sometimes that's exactly what we need to do. And sometimes what we need to have is a strategy. Like when I was criticized in that situation I couldn't figure out how to process the criticism myself. Sometimes we need to have people that we can call that will help us out. That's what I did. Sent the criticism on to a friend, hopped on the phone and said "Hey man, can you help me figure this stuff out?" And he really helped me unpack it. He helped me find the places where I needed to own up to what I had done wrong. And other situations which were more about the person criticizing me then they were about myself. Sometimes the barb, ah it just stings. We need to get that out. Give it a little bit of time. And invite someone in the process so that we can have a better handle on what that thing is. Speaking of time, that's something I do all the time. If ever there's someone who criticizes me I say "You know what, I'm just gonna wait. "I'm gonna give this a day or so "and then revisit whatever it is". If you respond or react or think about it too quickly it's just gonna have that sting and you're not gonna be able to really process it in the correct way. So, in sum. Criticism. It's coming. You may be thinking "Okay, well I don't get a lot of it right now". Well if you do creative work, I mean really bold and courageous and great creative work, it's just par for the course. It's part of the game. And the trick is, is to come up with a strategy, a paradigm before it happens so that you can process it when all of a sudden it arrives. So I hope that these will give you a couple ideas. One, mindset. Two, find a couple friends that you can call, kind of your helplines that you can go to when you need some help in order to figure out how to process whatever it is. And three, don't get overwhelmed right away. Give it some time. Lastly if you want to dig deeper into these concepts I have, a couple books and a film I want to recommend. The first one is the biography of Jack London by Earle Labor. It's a phenomenal book. It talks about the guy's life. Everything that's there. What you'll discover is that he was a fighter and he pushed through so much. When we see other people do that it gives us bravery for us to do it ourselves. The other one is Letters of Vincent van Gogh. This is the correspondence between van Gogh and his brother. And here you'll encounter a really, I don't know, a van Gogh whose having a tough time in life. I mean the guy, it was a hard path that he had. And the only way he was able to create his art was with the support of his brother. And you'll see that relationship there. And for me it makes me realize "Hey you know what? "I can't do it on my own. "Especially when it comes to critique". Last but not least, there's a film which is called A Brush With Genius, about van Gogh. That's a beautiful piece about him. And it's always helpful to learn more about these great artists. Cause sometimes we see their art and think "Man, it must have been so easy for them". But the reality is everyone, everyone who does great creative work had to push through criticism and rejection to get where they are. Alright. Well I hope that this helps you as you seek to become more creative and alive.