If Someone Calls You a Horse…

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On a recent Facebook group, someone asked whether you should care what other people think about you and your business. The answer was overwhelming in one direction. Whenever I see that in business, I start to feel uneasy. As soon as EVERYONE is in agreement, I tend to think something is wrong.

I know, I am weird. I blame it on growing up Irish Catholic. For some reason, Irish Catholics cannot accept that something is simply “nice” without assuming something will go wrong. It is a full-blown cultural neurosis.

The entire group seemed to jump immediately to “Of course you shouldn’t care what they think. What do they know?” . If you have been reading this blog for a while now, you can probably see why I can buck against this.

Let me be clear, my career was messy until I started listening to other people’s opinions, particularly those of authors and psychologists. I needed to open up my circle to more people because I was totally convinced I was infallible. Because I was young and pretty good at what I did, I thought there was no way someone could tell me something. That was until my ego came crashing down hard and I started trying to force a square peg in a round hole.

You see it wasn’t until I crashed that I knew I should have listened more. There were plenty of people warning me that I was doing the wrong things, I just wasn’t willing to listen. I thought that I had all the answers.

Simply put, listening to criticism actually HELPED! I know there are thousands of Instagram posts out there talking about “Don’t listen to them.” and “have total faith in yourself”, but at a certain point it will only help you to take the advice.

I had plenty of customer curse me out for being too high pressure or manipulative. I laughed it off and said “what the hell do they know?” every time. I was wrong. If I took the time to do a little self-reflection after the critiques came up, maybe I would be farther along on my journey than I am today.

I didn’t and I am not. That is the cost of the lesson, and I am happy I paid it.

Now I am not saying you need to listen to everyone who says something negative about you and your business, but you have to start looking for trends.

There is a movie I love that most people never heard of called Lucky Number Slevin. In it Ben Kingley has a line that has always stuck with me.

“The first time someone calls you a horse you punch him on the nose, the second time someone calls you a horse you call him a jerk but the third time someone calls you a horse, well then perhaps it’s time to go shopping for a saddle.”

No, you shouldn’t listen to everyone who says bad things about you, but if you start hearing the same things over and over again….

Well, if the saddle fits…

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  1. There is a thing called “toxic positivity”. I obviously didn’t listen too much to people or this site wouldn’t be here. However, it also wouldn’t be what is nor what it will become, if I wasn’t willing to listen to the critic. Well said, @redstafstrom!

  2. If it quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, and waddles like a duck…

    Perhaps it’s a duck?

    But anywho, as I posted here on LinkedIn:
    “It depends.
    I wouldn’t give an absolute in either direction.

    What matters isn’t so much the opinion of “you” and “your business” (“” marks for vagueness and generality) but the intent behind those opinions.
    ? Is it given by someone who is jealous of you and wants to see you fail (out of malice/spite/mean-spiritedness)?
    ? It it given from a place of genuine concern for “your” wellbeing and desire to see “you” succeed and do good in the world?

    Listen to the coaches and ignore the critics.”