I’m paraphrasing the above quotes from reviews of one of my favorite books last year. Some of the actual reviews are far more brutal — and there are many more just like this.
I mean some people really hate this book.
And that’s a pretty sure sign that something is wrong. Right?
So what should the author do? Should they take the criticism to heart and curl up in a ball on the floor? Should they give up writing? (Some people have suggested as much).
Maybe they should seek ways to ensure that their next book — if they can muster the motivation to write one — appeals to these “haters” in some way so as to not to attract such harsh criticism?
They could do that.
In fact, it’s not that uncommon for people to not only change their creations to please others, some even go as far as to change the unique things about themselves in order to be more like those that get better “feedback”.
But I think that’s a mistake.
It may surprise you to discover that the book I’m referring to currently has a solid 5 star rating on Amazon. It has also been one of the best-selling books in its genre since it was published.
So — depending on how you look at it — it’s not so bad after all.
But what about these 1 star reviews? Are they invalid?
No. Of course not. Because an opinion is just that, an opinion.
Even if you’re only in the 1% of people who either do or don’t like something, it doesn’t make you “wrong”. It just means that, for whatever reason, you are not among the appreciative audience the something was intended or most suited for.
The next time you feel rejected, criticized, or cross paths with someone who sees things differently than you do, I encourage you to remind yourself that it is likely impossible to be universally liked. And in order for nearly anything to truly have mass appeal, it must also situate itself within a very narrow spectrum so as not to offend, or bore, or turn off anyone.
And often, the moment something gains mass appeal, people criticize it for exactly that reason.
Even people who donate millions of dollars to charity receive complaints from folks who don’t think it was the right charity, or the right time, or the best use of that person’s money.
It’s very rare that you can ever do what you consider a good thing that everyone who hears about it will appreciate.
Remember this the next time you run across someone who has a different opinion than you do, or who criticizes you or something you produce. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong, but it more than likely means they are simply not among the people you or what you produce is most suited for.
What really matters is making — and doing — the things you want to do for those they are intended for and not wasting your time trying to please or appease those who will never get you — or what you have to offer — no matter how hard you try.
What is the book in question? It doesn’t really matter.
Because it could be any book. Or any movie, or song, or literally anything anyone has an opinion about one way or the other.
If you’d like to try an exercise, I suggest going and reading the negative reviews for one of your favorite books or movies. Then, go read the positive reviews for a book or movie you really disliked.
Doing this can help provide added perspective because it reminds us of what it feels like to be at both ends of the spectrum — and neither end is “wrong.”
Your mission today, if you choose to accept it, is to perform a random act of kindness.
Pay for someone’s toll or coffee.Put some change in an expired meter (*Note: may be illegal in some states). Share an artist’s work. Make a donation to a cause or help promote it. Help fund a Kickstarter project. Have flowers delivered to a receptionist. Let the Wookie win.
“Yes, I see the “lanes merge ahead” signs, but I’m really in a hurry today. Besides, I see those other jerks do this all the time.”
“I know the light is turning red, but I have important things to do.”
“I can’t find a trash can and I’m really tired of carrying this bottle, so I’m just going to drop it. Besides, there’s another bottle on the grass over there.”
“I don’t want to have to walk across the parking lot to throw my fast food trash away, so I’m just going to leave it next to my car. People get paid to clean this stuff up, right? I’m not littering, I’m giving someone a job.”
“I’m not walking another 40 feet to put this shopping cart in a rack. I’m just going to leave it in this parking space. Look at all the other carts in the parking lot. I’m sure someone will take care of it.”
“This thing I found doesn’t belong to me, but it’s kind of nice and I don’t want some thief to take it. So I’m going to.”
When you do things that you don’t like others to do — or wouldn’t want someone to do to you — you set an example for even more people to follow.
Always do the things you want to see more of in the world, not less.
I’ve said it before, if all I do is write posts that simply make people nod yes, then I’m not really doing much to make people think or change the way they look at things.
“It is just that we should be grateful, not only to those with whose views we may agree, but also to those who have expressed more superficial views; for these also contributed something, by developing before us the powers of thought.” — Aristotle
It is those things that make us pause and evaluate how we feel about them — whether we agree or disagree or just want to think about in more depth over time — that really make a difference in our lives.