Expect criticism. If you’re doing something worth doing, know that an effort that matters will draw detractors.
Don’t reverse-engineer this principle, though: no matter how tempting it might be to shrug “Must be doing something right!”, criticism isn’t validation all by itself. You’ll need to actually assess your work to prove it worthy.
But if what you’re doing is worth doing, there will be those who think it shouldn’t be done at all and others who, like the moderate ministers of Birmingham, Alabama, object to your method, timing, or goals.
Listen for the message behind the criticism.
Black Enterprise recently asked Alice Walker about how she’s weathered criticism over the course of her life:
You come into this world with your assignment and you kind of know that there are certain things that you will be given the understanding to try to accomplish for the common good.
And that’s your job, and you just take it on like any other job. And then you figure out that many people won’t like it, and they’ll try to stop you, and they may stop you, but that’s their job. It’s not your job.
Know your job. And know that there’s no advance without detractors, no action without concern trolling, and no innovation without critics.
Crowds don’t gather to stare at an empty wall: reactive attention is a sign that something is afoot. So get clear about what that something is, and then do your part to pour substance into it. That’s how criticism can move you forward.