OK, there's a business lesson in here… but it starts last year when I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express in Moab, Utah while I was on vacation…
(Moab is a frequent base for my outdoor adventures, and Holiday Inn Express is as fancy as the accommodations get there.)
In any case, the hotel had one of those “free” breakfast deals… so in the morning I went down to the lobby to check it out.
The breakfast spread had lots of bagels, cereal, toast, and such. And there was a bunch of tables with lots of people eating breakfast.
And, of course, there was a big TV embedded in the wall with the volume turned way up… it was tuned to a “news” show.
On the “news” show they kept showing a “news story” about a robbery of a convenience store… and the “story” featured a video clip from a security camera – the video showed a thug holding a gun to the terrified clerk's head while he screamed that he was going to pull the trigger.
It was a horrible video. It literally made me sick to my stomach.
I love people, I love humanity. I have great faith that we are evolving as a species in all kinds of good ways. But there are sick people in this world. And it can be sad, depressing, and confusing to be confronted by those people.
However, the really amazing thing to me was the people eating breakfast in that lobby. They were all sitting there watching the show. Eyes glued to the TV. Some of the people were parents with young children at their table.
Outside the hotel, the landscape of southeastern Utah called with indescribable beauty, but they sat transfixed by the worst of humanity.
It's important to note that the incident on the TV actually happened nearly 2,000 miles from where they were sitting. This “news” had absolutely zero impact on their lives.
Yet, they were willingly sitting there letting the TV put these horrible, violent, depraved images into their brain.
It was almost as if someone walked up to them and asked “would you like some poison injected in your brain?” … and their answer was “yes, please give me an extra dose“…
That's not the recipe for starting a happy, productive day. Or life.
If you want to achieve anything… whether it's in your personal life or your business life, then you need to guard your brain, and what you put into it… and what you let others put into it.
If you put poison into your brain, you're going to get a bunch of poison coming out of your brain.
This is ESPECIALLY important for entrepreneurs.
When you step up and start a business, or try to grow your business… you are setting yourself apart. You're telling the world “I'm a leader, not a follower“… and, sadly, that will make you a target.
That's an unfortunate truth, but it's the truth.
There are lots of people that hate their lives. There are lots of people that have tried and failed. There are even more people that would like to try, but they're scared to take the first step. And they envy you.
When YOU take that step, when you start building your business… it's only natural for jealousy to rear it's ugly head among all those failures and wannabees.
Basically, it's easier for those people to try to tear you down than it is to go out and actually work to create some value in the world.
(And make no mistake, that's the business that all entrepreneurs are in – creating value. And it's also why a lot of people fail… because they never figure that out.)
And I just want to say right here – there is nothing wrong with failure. I've failed at lots of things. Failure is only a problem if you either take it as permanent and don't try again, or if you blame your failure on other people.
So please take it as a given… when you're an entrepreneur, people will try to tear you down.
If you pay attention to those people, then you're injecting poison into your brain, as surely as if you were in that hotel watching a TV with a convenience store clerk begging for her life.
As an entrepreneur, one group of people who will try to tear you down will be people that are close to you… your family and/or your friends. You will get more of this when you're first starting out. Trust me, this can be very painful… but once your business takes off, this type of criticism tends to fade away.
But that's not the end of it… these days, in the age of the Internet, where anyone that can turn on a computer can become an anonymous critic… well, you will certainly draw naysayers and critics. Maybe not when you start your business, but the larger your success grows, the bigger a target you become.
Like I said above… this isn't a happy fact, and if you're just starting out it might be discouraging… but it's a fact nonetheless… if you're going to achieve great things, you're going to attract jealous attacks.
So here's some strategies to deal with it:
1. Always protect your confidence. If people are tearing you down, then you need to avoid them. This can be tough if it's your family, but you need to set boundaries. You need to create distance. And if your friends are tearing you down, it's time to find some new friends.
2. If you're getting attacked by critics (who usually have no experience or are abject failures), then the best answer is usually to ignore them. Don't visit the places they hang out. It's that simple. In general, the people listening to them are not your clients or prospects.
It's almost like an intelligence test. The people who are stupid enough to listen to the bile and hatred are not intelligent enough to be your clients.
Read that last paragraph again… it's important.
3. Use the haters as motivation. This is something that John Carlton wrote about… it's something of a secret that lots of entrepreneurs and high achievers are motivated in large part by a thirst for revenge. That's not the prettiest emotion… but I think John is on to something. Personally, I've been driven to some massive successes as an answer to people attacking me… once to a launch that did almost $4 million in sales in just a couple of days.
That wasn't the first and definitely won't be the last time that an attack was answered by the marketplace… with a massive product launch.
4. Remember… “the best revenge is a life well lived” … go out and create more and more success in your business and your life, and create more and more value for your clients and customers… and you won't even be able to remember who the doubters and haters were.
5. Forgive. Even though revenge can make for great fuel in the moment… it's not a good long-term food for your soul. Remember that the people trying to tear you down are just trying to deal with their fears, doubts, and inadequacies. We all have those same emotions in our lives at times… and they can be a real burden. A little empathy goes a long way.