How to Deal with Critics and Rejection

Sometimes your opinion is the only one that matters.
June 9, 2015

They say that “everyone’s a critic,” and that never seems more true than when you’re pursuing a dream and trying to enlist support. There will always be well-meaning people who want to “protect” you from your “unrealistic fantasies.”

Cynthia Kersey, best-selling author of Unstoppable: 45 Powerful Stories of Perseverance and Triumph from People Just Like You, says dealing with critics and rejection is no doubt difficult. These critics are often people you love the most—parents, friends and significant others. They may have the advantage of seeing your situation from a wide vantage point—the outside in. But don’t forget you are the only one who has a unique spot to observe your dream’s scenic landscape. You can use your fire and passion to see what others can’t.

The only opinion about your dream that really counts is yours. The negative comments of others merely reflect their limitations—not yours.

Fashion photographer Richard Avedon tried to convince Cher that she didn’t have the right look to be a model. He told her flat out, “You will never make the cover of Vogue because you don’t have blond hair or blue eyes.” When she did, Vogue sold more copies than it had ever sold before.

When Gustave Leven was making plans to launch Perrier in the United States, several consulting firms advised him, “You’re foolish to try to sell sparkling water in the land of Coca-Cola drinkers.”

A New York publisher told James Michener after reading his first unpublished manuscript, “You’re a good editor with a promising future in the business. Why would you want to throw it all away to try to be a writer? I read your book. Frankly, it’s not really that good.” Michener's manuscript, titled Tales of the South Pacific , was eventually sold, later won a Pulitzer Prize and was adapted for stage and screen as South Pacific.

Remember, there is nothing unrealistic about a dream that aligns with your purpose, ignites your passion, and inspires you to plan and persevere until you attain it. On the contrary, it’s unrealistic to expect a person with such drive and commitment not to succeed.

Related: John C. Maxwell: 5 Reasons Why Dreams Don’t Take Flight