Updated: Mar 14, 2022
As I stood in front of the 100+ people and watched them all clasp their hands together as instructed I knew when I asked the audience to clasp them again—this time with the opposite thumb on top—they would see how awkward that felt and I could make my point about working with our natural tendencies to be our best. Unfortunately, a man in the second row refused to participate in the exercise. I asked him to try it so he could experience what everyone else did. I should have noticed some of the audience members around this man shaking their heads, but I didn’t and asked the man again to clasp his hands with a different thumb on top each time. Big mistake.
He didn’t say a word, he just raised up both arms and clicked the claws on the end of each prosthetic limb. Damn. How did I miss that? I felt terrible. What a schmuck I was for trying to make this man with no hands clasp them. This experience haunted me for months, but I learned from it and eventually bounced back. I just recently had another less-than-stellar outcome for a presentation (a virtual one). It hurt to hear they weren’t thrilled with the speech. (In 31 years I have had only four negative reviews from the people that matter most, the meeting planners. That’s a really low ratio, but isn’t it normal to discount the 2,400 rave reviews and focus on the few that weren’t perfect?) I listened to their critique, heeded some of their advice, and now I am moving on. When people put themselves out there in any format, there will be others who try to take them down for a number of reasons. Sometimes there is a lesson to learn, other times it’s best to just let their criticism roll off our back and keep going.—or a combination of the two. We can’t let it stop us from doing what we love, sharing what we have to share with the world, or have it shake our confidence to the point we quit.