It's time for some creative inspiration from the Creative Whack Pack. Ready? Let's reach for a card. It’s number 58, “Use Your Shield.” Let's take a closer look.
For example, when the composer Igor Stravinsky first presented his Rite of Spring ballet with its unusual harmonies and primitive rhythms, he was met with a rioting audience.
When Johannes Kepler correctly solved the orbital problem of the planets by using ellipses rather than circles, he was denounced.
When the nineteenth-century Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweiss suggested to his fellow doctors that they could reduce disease by washing their hands in chlorinated lime water before inspecting their patients, he was ridiculed by his colleagues who strongly resented the idea that they were "carrying around death on their hands."
Be prepared for such a reaction and don't let it prevent you from acting. As German statesman Konrad Adenauer put it, "A thick skin is a gift from God." How strong is your shield?
I've found that when I've embarked on some of the more interesting endeavors in my career — from going into business for myself to self-publishing my first book, from buying a new house during a recession to creating a new manipulative toy business — there have been more than a few people who told me such things as:
- “You're leaving IBM to do what?”
- “What does ancient history have to do with anything?”
- “Where’s the market for that?”
- “I don't think anyone would pay money for that.”
- “Why would an adult want to play with plastic blocks?”
Criticism is vital to the creative process. Having people disagree with you helps you hone your ideas. Indeed, ideas are much stronger when they've been tempered by opposing viewpoints.
But once you're convinced that your idea is worth doing and you've committed yourself to implementing it, such negativity can be a burden to your performance. People are going to take their shots: you need to have a strong shield to deflect criticism. If you let every nay-sayer prevent you from moving forward, you'll never reach your objective.
Think of an idea you're currently trying to get into action. What negative reaction do you expect? How can you protect yourself from it? How well do you deal with criticism? What types of shield do you use?