“If you aren’t in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” — Brené Brown
I admit it. What follows is an asshole adjacent thing to do. Fortunately it might make for a good lesson.
Some months ago a piece I wrote got sent out in a newsletter. It reached about 150.000 people.
Whenever you reach a decent number of people there are going to be critics. And that’s OK, if it’s constructive. However, far too often people just want to complain.
There was one who really leaned into it, tearing things apart. I was almost fascinated by the sheer dedication they had.
I admitted that my work had its flaws and thanked them for their feedback.
I asked them to please give me some examples of what they would’ve done differently and put up their work somewhere so that I could view and share it.
This is where the asshole in me came alive. I was something like 99% sure that my response would go ignored, but it didn’t. They said that they’d do it.
Gold. Now all I had to do was wait.
Months later when I still hadn’t received any article, I shot back a message: “Still anxiously waiting for that article of yours.”
The response was priceless.
I got called a myriad of things and criticized for the gall to pester them with this requests since they we’re clearly a very busy person.
I do this for two very important reasons:
It’s important that we hold people accountable for their actions. If that means taking the time to set an alarm for two months from now on your phone and sending a message, so be it.
There will always, always, always be critics out there. People who will gladly rip into your performance without ever getting on the stage themselves.
It’s really easy to offer opinions when you don’t have any skin in the game.
But we need to ask ourselves: “Is this person even worth listening to?”
I count myself very fortunate to face this question every day.
I get it from talking to artists to startups to CEOs. Why would anyone listen to me? I have nothing at stake in their career, company, or life.
Well, what I do is that I put it myself out there. Just like they do. And if I don’t provide people any value I don’t eat. It’s that easy.
If I ever criticize the way anyone conducts or expresses themselves then I have to make sure that I’m held to the same standards.
When I ask another person to put a sock in their mouth to see what it tastes like, in order to make them a better songwriter, I put a sock in my mouth first.
If I ask a CEO to spend money and time on a project I find to be in their best interest, then I’d best be willing to stake something of equal value on that play as well.
I can’t expect people to listen to me, especially if I’m on the sidelines being a spectator.
I need to put some skin in the game.
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