Are you 'Thick Skinned' enough?

It is hard to fight an enemy when you have allowed them to camp in your mind. Stop with the negative self talk!

To develop a thick skin requires you to put yourself out there, first consider differentiating between your own and other people's expectations and ensure that you are assigning each their appropriate weight. Your own expectations should ideally take priority.

How your work is interpreted, received, or recognised, is less under your immediate influence. I'm not suggesting that this is irrelevant, but it can be an unreliable benchmark against which to measure yourself. The greater the importance you assign to other people’s expectations, the more dependencies you introduce, and the higher the likelihood that you'll end up burned out, or distracted from more important work matters.

Self-sufficiency is the path towards effectively managing expectations.

When you prioritise your own expectations, you naturally develop the thick skin required to put yourself out there and consistently produce at a high level.

Turn your attention back to what's within your control or influence. Put in the work. Focus on your craft. Create something that resonates with you. When you limit the external dependencies and surrounding noise, the more relaxed, concentrated, and effective you will be.

Disentangle Feedback from Criticism

This is not to say that you shouldn't seek feedback. Feedback is critical to further developing and growing your skills. However feedback needs to be clearly differentiated from criticism.

In other words, the source is fundamentally different. Feedback comes from fellow team members who are invested – the doers – who are taking risks by putting themselves and their work out there. These are the people whose opinions and judgment you should respect most.

Criticism comes from insecure bystanders, shouting from a distance.

The intention behind feedback is also different. Criticism is often shallow and malicious in nature – focused on putting you down. True feedback, from an inner circle whom you respect, is diligent, constructive, and objective. Its purpose is to challenge you to improve yourself and your work.

In short, it's about growth – which is a painstaking process in its own right – not about praise, telling you what you want to hear, or making things easier. It's up to you to draw the line and determine who has your best interest in mind.

Create Your Own Momentum

When the inevitable criticism does come, use it as motivation and redirect that energy to create momentum of your own. With the right perspective, it becomes almost laughable.

Let the tantrums end there, refuse to allow yourself to be distracted by those who are not invested already. Their opinion holds no validity.

For most talented, hardworking people, it's just a matter of time. Which means you need to find the energy to keep going. The more dialled into yourself that you are, the less outside opinion should matter, and the more resilient you'll be in your processes.

A meaningful, fulfilling life demands hard work and tough decisions. Those who aren't cut out for it will lean towards the path of least resistance, it's easy to live that life. If easy is what you want out of life, feel free to join the ranks of the unremarkable.

Those who make a difference show up and sustain themselves at that level by having their expectations in order. Valuing self-sufficiency over dependency and feedback over criticism.

If you take the time to develop these skills of resilience, persistence, and mental toughness then outside opinion will lose its grip and you’ll be able to better carry your own momentum forward.

Author: Peter Robinson
Team Leadership Services