035 You Don’t Need to be Different to Make a Difference (AKA: How to Handle Negative Feedback)

035 you don't need to be different to make a difference (aka: how to handle negative feedback) steal the show with michael port

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Do you worry about criticism, and put off the release of your creative work? Learn how you don’t need to be different to make a difference, and tips on how to handle negative feedback.

00:00: Welcome to Steal the Show with Michael Port. This is Michael, and I don’t know what the title of this episode is yet. This may just be a rambling episode, a stream of conscious episode based on how I’m feeling today. And the reason that I wanna share how I’m feeling today is because I’m tired. I am emotionally and physically exhausted. Why? Because I’ve just come off a week of the release of the book. So the book was released a week ago, Tuesday, and today’s Wednesday. So that’s eight days. And of course, there are months of pre-launch activities, and so as we get closer and closer to the launch of the book of “Steal the Show,” time gets more limited, energy gets more limited, resources get more limited, and that’s draining. And then of course, I’m out there on other people’s podcasts, I’m on other stages, and I’m doing my own podcast, and that’s emotionally draining, because you’re sharing your ideas, you’re giving of yourself, and you’re opening yourself up to critique. And when you are introducing new ideas and new concepts, so “Steal the Show” for the market is a new book, people will come to that and critique the ideas. It’s very emotionally draining. It can be traumatic, in fact, and I write a lot about this in “Steal the Show”. How do you overcome this? How do you deal with this? And it can be difficult, frankly.

01:32: I am so amazed with people that have absolutely no concern for what other people thinks about what they do or think. It’s really quite extraordinary to me. I have a friend that I grew up with who runs a hedge fund. And honestly, I can say honestly, he’s got no bravado about it, he’s not faking it, he really just doesn’t care what anybody thinks about what he does. And he’s a very ethical and very moral person, and he does what he wants to do based on what he wants to achieve, it’s quite impressive. A lot of people, however, who see themselves as performers, or don’t see themselves as performers but wanna go out and do new things, different things, creative things, they’re a little more sensitive, and I’m in that camp. This is one of the reasons that I think a lot about this idea of how do you manage the negativity that you sometimes get when you’re creating new things, when you’re developing new things, when you’re putting new things out in the world. And I like to focus on the results rather than the approval, but sometimes that’s hard. And the more exhausted you are, the more emotionally drained you are, the harder it is to focus on the results and the easier it is to get caught up in the need for approval, because the approval makes you feel better. And when you’re exhausted, physically and emotionally, you know you’re not as strong, you don’t have as much in the tank, so to speak, to protect yourself from the negative criticism.

03:09: Now, we don’t wanna protect ourselves in such a way that we become hard to the outside world. We wanna be able to take in the outside world. Sometimes people give us suggestions for improvement that we want to use. But when you do anything in a big way in a creative space, people will criticize you who don’t know you. And sometimes they’ll do in personally. And this is one of the things that holds people back. This is one of the reasons that people say “I’m not gonna create something new.” Or they don’t put things out in the world until it’s perfect. It’s not ready yet. This is what I get a lot. “I’m not ready to do it yet. I’m not ready to put that out yet.” We’re never really ready. We have to, at some point, ship. You know, put our ideas out into the world. But it’s how we deal with these things that are important. And I keep reminding myself that I am here to serve the people that I’m meant to serve.

04:07: If you’re listening to me right now and you just can’t stand me, “I hate this guy’s voice. I hate what he’s about. I’m just gonna freaking rail against him any chance I get”, then I’m not here to serve you. There’s nothing I can do about that, and I’m not gonna change who I am, I’m not gonna change my voice for you. But if you’re listening and you… “I really connect with this guy. I like his voice. I like how he shows up to be in service to me. I might not agree with everything that he says, but he is serving me in some way.” Well, that’s who I’m here for. Then you’re who I’m here for. And that’s what I have to remember.

04:48: At the same time, it can be helpful to address people who offer really negative, critical, and sometimes even mean feedback, especially in public, because it can help your cause. And it can actually make you feel better, because then you feel appreciative of the way you handled the situation, and that often gives you good feeling about yourself, which then gives you more confidence.

05:18: So the book, as I said, has been out now for eight days, and there are already 105 reviews on Amazon. And the Amazon ranking system is one star to five stars. One is the worst, five is the best. And right now with those 105 reviews, the average is five stars. So you can’t do any better than that. Now, that doesn’t mean that every single review is a five star. There’s one or two fours, one or two threes, and maybe one one right now. But I have addressed each review inside Amazon. I respond to it. And the one person that gives me a one, that just rails against me, hates everything about me, I say, “I’m sorry I’m not able to be of service,” a couple other nice things, “I appreciate your time that you took to read the book and write the review and I wish you the best,” simple as that. And people look at that, and go, “Oh! He seems like a nice guy. He doesn’t seem like the person that this reviewer has described.” And of course that person doesn’t know me, so I don’t know how they could talk about who I am personally. And I think then the potential reader who’s looking at that goes, “Oh, yeah, okay, I see a little bit into his character, the way he responded.”

06:37: And then the ones that are four stars or three stars, if there’s something in there that I find inaccurate, if they say that I said something in the book that I didn’t say or that I believed in some particular methodology that I don’t believe in, et cetera, then I just clarify it and I try to do it in a way that’s very respectful, that really honors their time, but allows me to serve the people that I’m meant to serve by saying, “Listen, I super-appreciate your time. I think that it means a lot to me that you’ve written about the book and I think it’s totally cool that not every single thing in the book resonates with you. But there’s just a couple things that you mentioned that I wanna clarify just for potential readers because you may have unintentionally misrepresented what I said.”

07:30: And then I might repeat that, “I know it’s unintentional, I know you’re really trying to help, and I appreciate that help.” And then I’ll just clarify what those are so that a potential reader really knows what I believe. And that does a couple things: One, I think it potentially helps with sales, people will then be able to make a better informed decision about the book, but also, it makes me feel better because I was able to address it, I was able to do it in a respectful mature way, and I didn’t have to just sort of sit back and get punched in the face.

08:05: Now, it doesn’t mean I have to respond to every single one. If one is so egregious that it’s just offensive to anybody that would read it, I may not respond and say, “Thank you so much for the time that you took to write that review.” I may just ignore that one because it speaks for itself. But for the most part, I try to review it, and I try to respond to it, and it makes me feel better. So don’t run from the criticism is what I’m saying. Don’t pretend that it’s not there and then… And definitely don’t get it and then talk to your friends about the criticism that you got for an hour like, “Can you believe so and so said this? They’re wrong, they’re ridiculous, blah, blah, blah,” because then you’re doing the same thing that they’re doing. So, we cannot be critics and performers. We can be one or the other. We’ve got to decide which one we’re gonna be. And as I’ve been doing interviews on other people’s podcasts, I’ve been asking these creators whether or not they write negative reviews.

09:00: I’m just interested in seeing how creators think about critique. So I’ve asked the people who host the largest podcasts, the most successful, the most downloaded podcasts in the world: “Do you write negative reviews on other podcasts or on Amazon about books?” Not one has said yes. And I say, “Why not?” They said, “I just… I don’t have enough time for that. I’m creating. I’m not interested in putting other people’s work down. That doesn’t help me be more creative. It keeps me small, because then I’m afraid that if I’m out in the world criticizing people, then I’m afraid to put my ideas out there, because I feel like that criticism is gonna come right back to me now even stronger. I know I’m gonna get it, I gotta deal with it, but I certainly don’t need to be somebody that is criticizing others.” And here’s another thing that I’ve heard them say consistently. They say, “Look, if I listen to a podcast or I read a book, I’m not expecting every single thing to be perfect. I’m not expecting that I, to agree with everything. And I’m not expecting that every single thing that they say is a new concept.”

10:14: So for example, I read a lot of books about investing, and often if I read a book, there’s a lot of ideas or concepts that are introduced at the beginning of the book that I know very well. And most of the books about investing will introduce these same concepts in the beginning of a book, because they wanna make sure that they’ve laid the groundwork, whether the book’s for people who are novices or experts. But I’m not gonna complain that I’m already familiar with that. If I find two or three things that change the way I see the world, or two or three things that help me improve, say, in that particular case, my asset allocation, then I feel like that was a huge win. I’m not expecting any creative work to serve every single need that I have. So, I just don’t do it and many of them don’t do it either. It doesn’t mean that we have to resonate with everything that everybody does, but if you don’t resonate with it, just ignore it. There’s just no reason to get worked up about it. One of the reasons that I think we sometimes get worked up about, work that we don’t like that other people do is ’cause we’re frustrated that their work is out there and ours isn’t.

11:36: We say, “Why are they so popular? They’re not doing anything that nobody’s ever done. I’ve heard that before. I’ve even said that before. It’s not new.” Well, why do we care so much? Maybe because we haven’t put our own work out there or maybe because we’re afraid that we’d be putting stuff out there that isn’t really new either. We say, all those little voices in our head say, “What do I have to say? I don’t know enough; I’m not enough; I’ll never be enough.” Those are the small thoughts that threaten to derail our dreams. Those are the small thoughts that we need to fight against every single day if we wanna go out in the world and do big things. We have to fight against those every single day, and your future is not predicated on your past. You are a creative artist no matter what you do for a living. You can think of yourself as a creative artist who is making up new worlds for yourself as you go. You are actively creating your life. Lee Strasberg was one of the most famous acting teachers of all time. He said that “The actor’s job is to consistently create reality and then express that reality.” And I find that fascinating because if you think about the rest of us, the non-actors, if you think about those of us who get up everyday to do something different, that’s what we do, isn’t it?

13:24: But we forget that; we think that reality is some fixed idea that we’re stuck in what exists right in front of us, the thing we can see. But we can create a reality and then express that reality. And I’m not… I’m not talking… This is not woo-woo, although, a little woo-woo in your life won’t kill you, but this is not a woo-woo concept. I’m not saying that you pull from the ether or you sit and say affirmations over and over, or don’t do anything. If you’ve listened to any of my podcast, or you’ve read any of my work, you know I’m a doer. Do, do, do, that’s what I love. I love doing stuff. I don’t really love sitting in a classroom; I wanna go out in the world. And I wanna learn it as I’m doing it. But you can create your reality through what you do, because everything you do tells the world something about you, which then creates the world around you. So you choose, it’s up to you, it’s not up me, it’s not up to your mom or your dad, it’s not up to your husband or your wife, it’s not up to your neighbors or your “friends”. I’m putting quotation marks, air quotes, around “friends”, because any friend that holds you back is not a friend. And it’s certainly not up to your colleagues.

14:56: You cannot let the industry you’re in dictate how you behave. You cannot let the industry that you’re in dictate the way that you work. But we definitely don’t wanna get a chip on our shoulder about how we work. One of the thing that’s interesting, when you’re a guest on a lot of podcasts is, is how the host introduces their show to you. So, I’d say about six times out of 10, the host will say, “Now, my show is different, and let me tell you how my show is different.” And I would say, “9.5 times out of 10, it’s really no different than the show that I just was on an hour before that.” What I was saying was this: “We don’t need to get a chip on our shoulder about being different, about our show is different, and and let me tell you why: Just do great work, that’s all. Just do great work. If your show is different then let it be different. If it’s the same, let it be the same, just do it well. If we worry all the time about trying to be different, we get hung up on the idea of being different.

16:03: And then we often rebel against what exists in order to make something new, as opposed to just creating the most important work that we can do for the people that we serve, because it’s not about us being different is it? It’s about the people we serve and what they need, and they may not need something different; they may just need to hear your voice in that moment. So, in “Steal the Show”, I write about the mothers who sing lullabies to their children and many mothers sing the same lullabies to their children. But the baby doesn’t care so much about what song the mother is singing, they care about the mother’s voice. And so the people you’re meant to serve will care about your voice and don’t water yourself down, don’t change your voice, don’t be something other than you are, don’t try to be different just to be different because you don’t need to be different to make a difference. And the more authentic you are, the more that people you’re meant to serve will realize that you’re meant to serve them. And that gives you the opportunity to be of service, which makes you feel great about yourself.

17:24: And you’re performing all the while, that’s why I wrote “Steal the Show”, that’s why I’m doing this podcast because I wanna demonstrate to you that you’re performing all the time. And good performance is not about fake behavior. Good performance is about authentic behavior often in a manufactured environment. So, doing a podcast, it’s kind of a manufactured environment. I’m sitting here by myself, talking to a microphone and you’re in your car, or you’re out jogging, or you’re lying in bed going to sleep, could be in any number of situations, it’s kind of a manufactured environment, it’s a made up thing. It didn’t exist 75 years ago. Giving a speech on a stage where people are sitting in a room is manufactured. We’ve all decided, “Okay, these people are gonna sit, you’re gonna get on the stage, and you’re gonna give them a speech performance someway.” Giving a toast at a wedding, that’s a manufactured environment. Interviewing, that’s a manufactured environment. It’s all set up to produce a particular type of result, it’s all manufactured. So let’s create our own reality, let’s work to be authentic inside those manufactured environments, and let’s go after the result we want, and not worry about the critics. Not the critics in the cheap seats, and not the critics in your heard.

18:44: So silence those voices in your heard. Speak to the critics on the outside if you want, but don’t feel like you have to defend yourself, just clarify points that are made that you feel are inconsistent or misleading, unintentionally or intentionally, by the reviewer or the critic, just so that other people know actually where you stand. But you don’t need to fight, you don’t need to get defensive, work to resolve conflict and move on with your life, and make stuff happen.

19:20: So that’s it for today. Keep thinking big about who you are and what you offer the world. Keep thinking big about who you are and what you offer the world. Go pick up a copy of “Steal the Show” anywhere books are sold if you haven’t already. You can also go to stealtheshow.com, pick up a bunch of bonuses when you buy the book. If you want public speaking help, go to heroicpublicspeaking.com, we’ve got events all over the country for you, online courses, and much more. I love you very much and not in a weird way, but I love you for being the big thinker that you are. Bye for now.

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