Everyone can attest to experiencing some sort of negative feedback, whether it's from a random troll on the Internet commenting on your content, or someone close to you who doesn't understand your life's direction. Negative feedback can be difficult to face because, in many ways, it pokes at who you are, what you love, and what it is you want to build for yourself. But according to business coach and founder of Wealthy Coach Academy Sterling Griffin, and fitness entrepreneur Nicholas Bayerle, negative feedback can also be a sign that you're staying true to yourself.
Griffin originally was set to be a Christian minister, but found that he could help more people by going his own way. He shared how difficult it was to step away, and that many people didn't understand the change in his life's direction. But the people who truly mattered, and the ones he looked to for acknowledgment in his decision, always supported him to matter what.
"It was a difficult thing to do, but the people that were close to me, they acknowledged me in the midst of that transition. People whose opinions I was really hoping to get approval from, they said, 'Hey, we love you for you, not for what you believe or what you want to do. We love you for you,'" said Griffin.
This is an important thing to remember, especially on the journey of "going your own way." Any entrepreneur can attest to acquaintances, associates, and even social media followers all having their own opinions on what you should be doing, but the people who truly matter will always understand and support the real you.
"It's important to keep in mind why people say what they say about what you're doing," said Griffin. "What's their agenda? Are they saying this genuinely in service, wanting to help, or is it coming from a place of hurt, fear, pain, whatever? I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and look to understand them before reacting and getting defensive."
Nicholas Bayerle, a fitness entrepreneur and Founder of Billion Dollar Body, added to the conversation by sharing the value of having a mentor, and how a mentor can provide feedback that might be perceived as negative, but is done in a way that is truly meant to help.
"I have a mentor, and for seven years he's been my go-to guy. And I am very aware that he doesn't really say many uplifting, encouraging things to me really--he's very improvement oriented. But when I first talked to him about it, he said, 'Look at what happens to you, everywhere you go. Everyone around you is giving you what you want to hear.' I really realized that he wasn't being negative, he just genuinely wanted to continue helping me grow. That's the real difference, between someone who is just interested in projecting their own negativity onto you, and someone who genuinely wants to point things out so that you can continue down your own path more effectively," said Bayerle.
This is such, such important advice for anyone looking to improve themselves--whether it's emotionally, financially, etc. Improvement doesn't come from constant praise, nor does it come from being surrounded by negative people. Growth is the result of being surrounded by people who are willing to take the time to not only understand you (which is different than simply praising you), but also help you see things outside your own line of vision. This is why people credit mentors as being so influential in their lives. A mentor will tell you all the things your peers either can't or won't. But they don't do it from a place of negativity. They do it because they want to see you grow, just like someone mentored them and wanted to see them grow.
What it comes down to, then, is understanding what is growth-focused feedback (that might be difficult to swallow in the moment), and negative feedback. Negative feedback is detrimental, and does nothing but make you question yourself. It's not conducive, and not worth keeping in your life. It's the growth-focused feedback you want, and that tends to only come from other established industry peers, whom you share a positive relationship, and those closest to you.
But at the end of the day, true growth and knowing what's best for you, has to come from within.
"It's important to ask yourself, 'What can I improve?' And it's always a two-sided question. What's going well, and what's not going well? That's something that has to become part of your routine, so that you're always keeping your focus on your own growth. That way, when someone chimes in, you can compare their perspective to your own," said Griffin.