It’s tempting to skirt or stonewall incoming criticism. We actually begin training our subconscious brain from a very young age to avoid hearing the word “NO”.

Why? Well…because hearing the word can sting. We also don’t get what we want. Getting what we want is like candy for the dopamine pleasure centers of our brains — whether or not actually getting the “thing” benefits us.

Now, if you can harness an insatiable hunger for hearing “NO” and using it to your advantage, you’ll begin to tap in to a deep well of feedback. If you can parlay this feedback to make strategic and incremental alterations to the what you create, and to how you operate, you get to receive a radical up-grade.

We tend to orient our actions around a survival mindset, which has us consciously and unconsciously embrace criticism that makes us feel and look good. More notably, this pattern motivates us to avoid any stinging criticism.

The problem with this approach is that it stifles our growth. And (here’s the gold if you’re a creative entrepreneur), hearing “NO”, or receiving negative criticism, always provides an access to growth.

The kicker? You have to be willing to stand in front of the “NO” and really nuzzle up to what didn’t work about your lack of integrity, your lame product, or your own inherent weaknesses.

Embracing the word “NO” requires that we drop our survival-based need to become defensive — a mechanism that often causes us to list our reasons and excuses — and actually get interested in what our critic is saying.

In other words, if we ever hope to get out of your own way and grow, we must acknowledge the shittiest thoughts, actions and ideas you’ve propagated onto others. We are also impelled…wait for it…to express GRATITUDE to our most vitriolic enemies for their input.

It’s like a boxing match. If you can absorb the punch, thank the one dealing the blow, then non-judgmentally distill and apply the truth they provided, you’re on to something BIG.

So, you might be asking, “How can I start nuzzling up to more “NOs” to grow?”

Mindful Practice:

  1. Manufacture problems worth living for. Pick one conversation you’ve been wanting to have (but have been too fearful to have) and have it! Whether that’s asking that guy or girl out for a drink, asking an investor for seed money to launch your business, or asking for the raise, you actually have to put something on the line. You might just be surprised by the response you hear. One thing is for sure: Never asking guarantees your “NO”.
  2. [For creative entrepreneurs] Survey and ask your tribe. Direct message them via social media, engage with them through email, and/or call them directly after they’ve received a product or service to solicit feedback. And, rather than view such outreach as a nusance to your clients, explicitly tell them that this is an added service to honor and hear them. I like to call this “getting ahead of their ‘NO’” — in that, you empower your family, friends, and/or customers to offer their criticism without making it weird or causing them to hold onto their criticism.

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