Whether you're starting a new business, debuting a performance, or working with a client, you'll find yourself in the hot seat faced with feedback - and you'll have a decision to make. Do you embrace the criticism and change what you're doing? Or do you gain confidence from being doubted and take solace that all innovation is, at first, misunderstood? Knowing which feedback to embrace and which to discard is perhaps the most important instinct for a creative leader to possess. Nearly every legendary innovation was initially mocked or misunderstood by the so-called "experts."
In truth, scrutiny and doubt are just part of the toll we pay to take the path less traveled. But knowing this doesn't make it any easier. The question is: When should you embrace your critics and their dogma, and when should you ignore them and carry on?
Savor Criticism, Shun Cynicism
There are two kinds of doubt you'll encounter in any new venture - criticism and cynicism.
Criticism is doubt informed by curiosity and a deep knowledge of a discipline related to your work. Whether the criticism you receive is constructive or not, it comes from knowledge. Informed insights like "I'm not sure someone would ever pay that much" or "you may not want to outsource that given the high-touch required" may cause you to question your approach.
By contrast, cynicism is a form of doubt resulting from ignorance and antiquated ways. Industry experts will often express doubt based on an ingrained muscle memory of past experiences that handicaps their vision for the future. Cynical statements like, "People will never read a book on a computer" or "Why would anyone want to put their rolodex online?" are famous doubts expressed by experts with handicapped vision. Read the complete The 99% article.