We have all been there at one time or another. We receive criticism from someone that truly takes the wind out of our sails. It cuts us to our core and it is hard, if not sometimes impossible, to get over. The trick however, is what you do with that criticism and, if in fact, you should do anything at all.
What prompted this article was an episode I happened to catch last week of “Inside The Actors Studio” on the Bravo network. It is a show where some of the countries most successful actors and comedians sit and talk for an hour or two telling about their road to success.
This particular interview happened to be with the comedian Eddie Murphy who told a great story about dealing with criticism when he was first starting out.
Eddie was appearing at one of the smaller comedy clubs when he heard people mutter excitedly that Rodney Dangerfield was visiting the club that night. Eddie states that while the other comedians became extremely nervous and avoided Mr. Dangerfield, Eddie walked right up to him and asked him to watch his upcoming set because he wanted to know what he thought.
When Eddie came off the stage, Rodney’s criticisms were not at all good. He told Eddie that his language was too dirty, his jokes offensive and that unless he changed his act, he would never be successful. Fast forward to 3 years later. Eddie was breaking all records for his sold out comedy shows in huge arenas and his comedy tapes RAW and Delirious were the best selling comedy videos ever created.
For the first time in 3 years Eddie came across Mr. Dangerfield again; this time in a men’s room. He said Rodney looked over at him, shrugged his shoulders and said “Hey! Who knew?”
While it was very funny in the telling, it also showed that you cannot let the opinion or criticism of others keep you from achieving your goals.
Bill Cosby was another famous comedian who criticized Eddie’s comedic material. And while it might be easier to blow off criticism by someone whose opinion doesn’t matter much, Bill Cosby happened to have been one of Eddie’s biggest idols. Eddie freely admits to watching and listening to Bill’s material for hours when he was younger, trying to copy Mr. Cosby’s awesome story-telling style. So you can imagine what a blow it was to hear that kind of criticism from someone he so badly wanted to emulate. But again, Eddie didn’t change a thing.
Just because someone is a supposed “expert” in the field or someone you have admired, does not necessarily mean their advice or criticism is correct when it comes to you.
There is another story about the famous actor Harrison Ford. He was told by the Vice President of Columbia that he was “never going to make it in the business”. I can’t imagine that is a good thing to hear from the head of a studio. Luckily it didn’t stop Harrison either.
Or when a young man was fired from a newspaper because he “lacked imagination and had no original ideas” as was told to Walt Disney when they let him go.
Just imagine how much we all would have missed out on if these people were silly enough to listen to their detractors.
The teacher who told Thomas Edison that he was “too stupid to learn anything”; or the recording company who told The Beatles that they “didn’t like their sound and guitar music was on the way out.”
All supposed experts and all were dead wrong.
So if you have been having a particularly hard time getting over someone’s criticism of you, keep these examples in mind. Just because they say it – doesn’t make it true. Follow your heart and do it anyway!
And who knows? Maybe someday you’ll be in a public restroom with your previous criticizer shrugging their shoulders saying “Hey! Who knew?”