Last week I had a really great conversation with a friend (actually, she’s the therapist I started seeing before my mastectomy, but she is a friend of a friend, and she reminds me of my friend, and so talking to her feels like talking to a friend. Anyway.). We were discussing Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly” and the idea that we play to our critics.
I had been working on my presentation that I was giving last Friday at the VA Women’s Business Conference for weeks and was struggling with the flow of it. We were talking about my anxiety surrounding my preparation and how I was struggling with my content … even though I had given this presentation before. Through our conversation I realized that my audience this time was different (women in business, not necessarily people in real estate) and I was feeling insecure. Like maybe I wasn’t really qualified to be sharing with them, and that my presentation (I) wouldn’t be worth their time. Then my friend said something so profound … critics will be critical no matter what.
The reason my presentation was feeling so uncomfortable was that I was playing to my critics. I was spending so much time focusing on people who may not necessarily enjoy what I had to share, who would be critical of it no matter what, instead of focusing on giving and sharing a presentation for an audience who would surely appreciate it and ensuring that they had the best experience possible.
For the record … I have no idea who the critics are. My presentation went off without a hitch (well, not exactly without a hitch, there were some technical issues and no podium which threw me off a little, but still), the only feedback I received was kindness, appreciation, and positive. The critics existed purely in my mind.
Now that isn’t to say that the critics don’t exist in real life, I’ve certainly had my fair share of them, but the key take away here is that we tend to spend so much time, effort and energy trying to please and pacify a very small number of people who cannot be pleased.
We do this in our homes, in social settings and in our business. Yes, it is important to strive to be better and to be constantly learning and improving, but upending your entire way of being or doing, censoring yourself, just to try to please those who ultimately don’t care about you at all and will be critical and judgmental no matter what … well that is a never ending battle.