Op-Ed

The biggest critic lives between our own two ears

A frog decided to reach the top of a tree. All frogs shouted, “Its impossible, its impossible.” Still the frog reaches the top. How? Because, he was deaf and he thought everyone was encouraging him to reach the top.

In the story of the frog, his biggest critics were on the outside, but oftentimes the biggest critics in our lives usually live between our own two ears. Working up the courage to move past our own vulnerability and uncertainty is often the greatest challenge we face on the way to achieving our goals.

It doesn’t matter how you choose to live your life, whether you build a business or work a corporate job, have children or choose not to have children, travel the world or live in the same town all of your life, go to the gym five times a week or sit on the couch every night. Whatever you do, someone will judge you for it. There will always be haters and difficult people. Would you agree?

Criticism appears to be a natural part of life’s spectrums and seems to have consistency with all the other phenomena we observe, for example, positivity and negativity, good and evil and hot and cold, just to name a few. Trying to understand these complex ranges of perception by asking three experts in the areas of psychology, physics and or any of the sciences can provide different answers on as many days are there are in a week.

However, while determining which one of the predominant theories are correct at any given moment is valid may be difficult, what is clear is that it appears to be easier to complain about a situation and be negative than to take individual action about any given perceived unpleasant experience.

A research paper titled, “Bad Is Stronger Than Good”, written by Roy F. Baumeister, summarizes academic studies that prove that we are more likely to remember negative criticism than praise. Baumeister found that even happy people tend to remember more negative events than positive ones. In fact, Baumeister and his team say that when it comes to your brain, it takes about five positive events to make up for one negative event. Various explanations such as diagnosticity and salience help explain some findings, but the greater power of bad events is still found when such variables are controlled. Hardly any exceptions (indicating the greater power of good) can be found.

What can we learn from the frog? What value does Baumeister’s team’s research offer you and me? How can we use this information to help us, like the frog, to abandon the negative impressions that may seek to discourage us – those that we create ourselves?

Here are three big ideas that are grounded in the philosophy of the frog and Baumeister’s team’s research findings that can accelerate our success.

High roaders are not victims; they choose to serve others

According to John C. Maxwell, people who take the high road don’t do so because it’s the only available option. They don’t do it by accident either: the high road goes uphill and takes more effort to travel. Instead, high roaders choose their path as a conscious act of service to others. By taking the high road, they drain animosity and bitterness out of relationships, serving to keep them open and productive.

Interestingly, in serving others, higher roaders benefit themselves too. As the author of Proverbs wrote, “It is a man’s glory to overlook an offense.” When we maturely respond to a slight by showing forgiveness, we display admirable character that elevates us in the eyes of others.

Delete, delete, delete

Dr. Magdalena Battles holds a doctor of psychology degree with specialties including children, family relationships, domestic violence and sexual assault. She suggests that the era of social media has made it increasingly easy for people to hide behind their computer screens to hurl insults and jabs at people they know or even do not know. Much of these insults are coming from the person’s jealousy, which is based on their own feelings of inadequacy or dissatisfaction with their own lives. She recommended voting to delete these persons from our social circles of influence. In physical situations where it may not be so practical to delete these individuals, Battles recommends avoidance and disassociation.

Remember haters are quitters

Top sales expert Grant Cardone said that haters are quitters. He said, “The people who say you can’t do something have already quit trying. When haters say, ‘become a multimillionaire, yeah right’, they’re actually saying, ‘I’m a quitter, and I’m hoping you quit too because it will make sense of why I quit.’” Cardone recommends never wasting a hater. They should be used as fuel to take us to the next level. “There has never been a successful person who wasn’t criticized or hated on,” he added.

It’s not what happens to you, it’s what happens in you

The frog provides a valuable lesson in muting the distractions of life. I believe our inner game creates our outer game. During a recent talk I was giving in Barcelona, Spain, the power went off in the theater where I was speaking. I was just about to press my clicker and move on to the next slide, which was an interactive slide and was placed in that exact spot to hype my audience as I had already laid the scaffolding of the key points, unwrapped the central theme and now was lining up for the runway to land my ideas like a plane landing on to the runway.

Immediately as the power shut off there was a slight uneasiness in the crowd. I steadied my nerves and said a reasonably loud but firm, “Okay everyone.” In the gap between those words and the moment, I realized that I had regained control. It was now do or die, I had to say something fast to keep the authoritative momentum I had instantly developed. I continued, “It appears the power has been cut off, I guess someone hasn’t paid the bill.” The crowd roared with laughter – I was back. I continued in semi-darkness and landed my ideas like pilots Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River after the aircraft’s engines were struck by birds.

Anyone who has been on stage knows that even the most experienced of us have moments when our nerves kick in. Uncontrollable events during a presentation somehow always seem to reflect on the speaker. The mumbles, shock, uneasiness and even outright rude remarks that are made during those brief moments, that seem like an eternity, are undermining and character deflating. However, when we are confident that things will and can happen, we are a bit more ‘quick on the draw’ and flexible when the inevitable bird strikes and challenges of life show up.

Members of the armed forces during World War II coined the phrase “Murphy’s Law”, which states that if something can go wrong, it will. Murphy, although his identity is unknown, was clearly not the most positive person in the world. Having said that, we can learn a lot from him. Things can and will go wrong and negative people do exist.

Anyone doing anything worthwhile will suffer harsh and frequent unfair criticism, but they also will reap the big rewards. The key is to block it out while continuing to create a positive impact around you. Each and every one of us has a tree, some of us have a forest. The frog made a decision to reach the top of his tree. Successful people make that decision every day.

What is your tree? How will you get to the top of that tree?

Nothing discourages haters more than seeing you succeed! Find the positive in every situation, go deaf to negativity, take action and the next time your haters see you, they will see you at the top.

• Eliot Kelly is recognized as a serial entrepreneur and has been featured on CNN, BBC Three’s Be Your Own Boss and an extensive list of magazines and articles. His four books have been translated in over seven languages and are sold in 29 countries, recently being shortlisted for Best Self-Help and Best Advice Books 2019 by The Author Academy. He is regarded as a top sales, business and leadership management coach, who creates opportunities for his success partner’s through financial literacy and life skills training. He is also a professional speaker and continues to inspire present and future entrepreneurs around the world. “You Know More Than You Think You Do” releases this Christmas! Pre-order today. Email: eliotlkelly@gmail.com; LinkedIn: Eliot Kelly; Facebook: facebook.com/eplatinumkelly; Instagram: @eliotkellyofficial.

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