Critics are going to take shots at you in life. Don’t believe me? The Beatles were once turned down by a record company because “guitar groups are on the way out.” Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his life. J.K. Rawling got turned down because “children just aren’t interested in witches and wizards anymore.” A modeling agency told Marilyn Monroe to “get married or become a secretary.” And Henry Ford was told, “The automobile is a novelty.” 
If Rowling, Ford, and the Beatles weren’t above criticism, you should expect haters also. The only way to avoid being shot at is to crawl under a rock and never accomplish anything in life. Any public figure will tell you that constant criticism is a part of the job.
All criticism is painful to hear, but it’s even more difficult when it comes from the people you’re trying to help.
US Representative Barry Loudermilk has known his share of public criticism. However, in my recent Unbeatable Podcast conversation with him, Congressman Loudermilk describes professional attacks, death threats, and at least one assassination attempt in the few years that he has served in the US Congress.
Life is a journey of nothing but ups and downs. And along the way, we will encounter criticism from different sources. Although it can be challenging, it’s essential to stay focused on your mission and not let criticism sway you off course.
One of the most challenging and deadly moments Congressman Loudermilk experienced came from a gunman who tried to kill congressional leaders as they prepared for an annual softball game. During this attack that left one police officer dead, Congressman Loudermilk forced himself to focus on saving a wounded friend’s life rather than the bullets landing all around him.
Using Criticism to drive you
Criticism can often cause you to feel disheartened and lose sight of your goals. However, remember that it can also serve as a valuable tool for growth and improvement. Instead of letting it negatively impact you, change the narrative.
Use criticism to your advantage by focusing on your objectives rather than the negative voices around you.
Congressman Loudermilk was slandered and maligned about involvement in the 6 January Capital Building attacks. Rather than lash out, he focused on helping the nation move forward after these attacks. As a result of his ability to handle the hostile opposition, he was selected to lead a comprehensive investigation into the attacks and develop some lessons learned to protect our nation in the future.
Staying focused on your mission is crucial, and one way to do this is by keeping your eyes on the reward for your hard work. Remind yourself what makes your goal worth pursuing. Changing the narrative will help you tune out the voices of people who want to hold you back.
Don’t allow criticism to define you
Sometimes your critics can be much louder than your supporters. Moments like this are dangerous to your sense of self-worth or your self-identity. Surrounding yourselves with supportive people who always speak truth into your life is powerful protection when critics start to take shots at you. Building a solid support network will help you when you are feeling down because of all the bad press. This support network will also drive you to push forward amid the hate.
Staying true to yourself and your values is your most powerful tool for handling criticism. By remaining focused on what’s essential, you can stay motivated, no matter the challenges and criticism.
Let them talk about you.
The people that aren’t accomplishing anything significant in life love to talk bad about those who are making a difference. Staying focused on your mission, staying optimistic amidst the hostility, and staying confident despite the hate is how to remain calm even when your critics are gunning for you.