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“I don’t like your work”

That doesn’t mean I don’t like you.

The difference is critical. It’s impossible to be a productive professional if you insist on conjoining them.

Here are two useful things to consider:

  1. There is plenty of disliked work from people (and things) where I don’t even know the creator. I don’t like John Adam’s operas, and I’ve never even met him. If it’s possible to dislike something without knowing the person behind it, I hope we can embrace the fact that they’re unrelated.
  2. If we need everyone to like our work in order to feel grounded, it means that we’ll sacrifice the best of what we could create in order to dumb it down for whatever masses happen to be speaking up. Which will make it more average (aka mediocre) and thus eliminate any magic we had hoped to create.

If someone cares enough to dislike our work, the best response is, “thank you.”

Thank you for taking the time to consider it, thank you for caring enough to let me know…

You can choose to listen (or not) to the rest of the feedback, but all you’ll learn is how one person reacted to something you built.

On feeling incompetent

At some point, grown ups get tired of the feeling that accompanies growth and learning.

We start calling that feeling, “incompetence.”

We’re not good at the new software, we resist a brainstorming session for a new way to solve a problem, we never did bother to learn to juggle…

Not because we don’t want the outcomes, but because the journey promises to be difficult. Difficult in the sense that we’ll feel incompetent.

Which accompanies all growth.

First we realize something can be done.

Then we realize we can’t do it.

And finally, we get better at it.

It’s the second step that messes with us.

If you care enough to make a difference, if you care enough to get better–you should care enough to experience incompetence again.

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