I’ve never been great at math. But there’s one kind of math I’m great at: Critic’s Math. It goes something like this:
1 insult + 1,000 compliments = 1 insult
First coined by author Jon Acuff, this term is a brilliant way of capturing the tendency we have to completely disregard positive feedback compared to minuscule (and often meaningless) criticism.
A few years ago, I launched a conference. During the marketing promotion, I got a critical comment on the event site saying I was wrong and a disgrace for charging people money to come. Behold the power of Critic’s Math:
- That logic is stupid. Didn’t matter.
- The person wasn’t gutsy enough to leave their name. Didn’t matter.
- The conference overflowed the building and people had to park across the street because the lot maxed out! Didn’t matter.
The event was a success, but I still pulled out my big fat textbook for Critic’s Math. I spent nights thinking about Anonymous’s comment.
This post isn’t a polemic against all criticism. Criticism (and even haters) can be valuable. For people to have the right to endorse your work, they must also have the right to criticize or hate it. (Seriously, where’s the “Dislike” button on Facebook?)
Furthermore, much of what I do is of a public nature: speaking, writing, music, marketing etc. Criticism is part of what I signed up for.
But therein lies an important realization about Critic’s Math: it’s a course that only I can sign myself out of.
And so can you.
Keep adding value to others. Keep telling others of how they’ve added value to you. Stop letting Critic’s Math subtract from everything.
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