“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~Aristotle
Bestselling author Chris Bohjalian shared that when he was a struggling artist he tried to get admitted into a writing program. He sent in samples of his work and was called to a meeting with an intimidating instructor. She told him she had some advice for him as a writer; “Be a banker.”
Chellie Campbell, whose books are available at Mac’s Books in Cleveland, offers the advice of seeing your critics as angels in disguise sent to test just how committed you are to your dream. They are meant to make you angry to push you further and to help strengthen your will as you wrestle to move past their judgments.
As one man shared, “I didn’t know I had a dream until someone told me I couldn’t have it.”
Campbell offers a second piece of advice: “Self-esteem begins here; anyone who doesn’t like you is an idiot.” She shares about the long trap of trying to please others by stepping into the futile arena of twisting ourselves into shapes to get other people to accept us.
She concludes, “I love applause and compliments. I used to want them from everyone. Now I just want them from ‘My People.’ My People are fabulous, smart, terrifically talented, discerning, intelligent, successful, spiritual and loving. Just like you. Everyone else is an idiot. Today, act as if this were true for you, too. Because it is.”
Montel Williams has often shared that what launched his pursuit of excellence was a teacher in school who told him he would never amount to anything. Though a child at the time, he determined in that moment to prove her wrong no matter how much work it took.
So silently thank your critics. See them as a chance to grow, to strengthen your resolve. Realize the idiocy of those who play small and expect others to as well. And lastly, consider the words of C.S. Lewis. Remember them well, for he is also talking about the person you see in the mirror:
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. It is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”