“Nobody is smart enough to be 100% right or 100% wrong.” – Ken Wilber
Charles Darwin knew a thing or two about handling personal attacks.
While sailing home after discovering his theory of evolution, he made a point to share his work with his ship captain.
But not for advice, input, or praise:
His captain was a stubborn, closed-minded man, who would criticize his theory vehemently — and vehement criticism is exactly what Darwin was looking for.
He knew the public back home would react just like his captain.
So he used the lashing attacks of his captain to steel his mind against the public attack that was headed his way.
Charles knew what we’ve been discussing all week:
- The price of success is criticism & personal attacks (it’s no accident that the biggest names receive the most hate).
- It is natural to be hurt by personal attacks (they’re supposed to hurt, we’re wired that way).
- So instead of going numb or pretending they don’t hurt, practice feeling them fully until the pain subsides (and you will become emotionally stronger, over time).
Which brings us to the hate video I mentioned in Part 2.
It’s been years since the video was posted, but when I first saw it, all I could think was:
The accusations sounded so unfair, so untrue that I wanted to angrily reject it from my mind.
Which is popular wisdom (“don’t listen to the haters!”), but as we know:
Nobody is smart enough to be 100% right or 100% wrong.
Even if an attack is 97% false, there’s a 3% truth in it that can help us get better.
And if you have the guts to dig for it — to really, honestly consider how this person might be right, in some small way — that hidden 3% truth is often the key that unlocks your next level of insight.
The trick is, the truth is rarely something they say directly.
Personal attacks come from envy (where else?) and envy isn’t rational — so you’ll need to look below the surface of their words for the hidden message underneath.
And when I finally decoded the hidden message of that video, it was profound:
The basketball world isn’t the right place to teach what I want to teach.
That single insight set off the series of events that ultimately led us here:
To these daily emails, to our retreats, to our upcoming courses, and to our shared quest for true self-mastery.
So yes, it sucks being attacked.
And it hurts.
But on the other side of that pain might just be the deep, life-changing realization you’ve been waiting for…
…And, you might even be grateful for the criticism, once you’ve uncovered it’s true message.
To sum up the core lesson of this series…
Instead of asking our original question:
“How would you live your life if negative opinions didn’t affect you?”
What if we asked:
“How can we handle negative opinions so they affect us positively?”
That’s what’s possible, here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed.
P.S. Here’s where you can check out Part 1 and Part 2.
One final point, for we wrap:
Learning from criticism does not not mean obsessing over every detail of the critique.
Seriously, do not do this:
Those “details” will be mostly irrational, envious, ignorant crazy-talk — and crazy people don’t want to make sense, they just want to make others crazy.
(“hurt people hurt people”)
So if 97% of what they’re saying is garbage, don’t let that garbage stink up your mind — just toss it in the trash where it belongs.
Then, see how you can turn that final 3% into something useful.
Actually, one more thing…
(I can’t help myself)
Think about how these principles might apply to your close relationships, as well:
Not to “haters” and “attackers” but to the conflicting opinions and advice of your loved ones.
That complaint from your girlfriend might sound unfair, but what if she’s trying to tell you something?
Your parents might sound overbearing, but what if they actually have some hard-won wisdom you haven’t gained yet?
Whenever a message hurts, pierce deeper to find the hidden truth.
Okay, I’m done now 🙂