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Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary. The Minimalists have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, CBC, and NPR.

Unsolicited Discharge

Last week, Ryan & I filmed a conversation about dealing with criticism. While I agree with everything we said, I’d like to add a few words.

There’s a significant difference between feedback and criticism: We must seek feedback from trusted people because it makes our work better. We must avoid criticism from naysayers because it clutters the path to creativity.

Whenever you create something meaningful, you will be critiqued. And no matter how close to perfect your creation is, it will be judged.

“The lighting looks creepy.”
“This video is stoopid.”
“Don’t quit your day job.”

Most criticism is merely an unsolicited discharge of personal preference. And because you didn’t ask for it, you aren’t required to respond. In fact, it’s best not to clap back. Instead, click delete or mute or block and move on to the next creation.

If you do this with enough frequency, the calluses you form will help you shape the next creation without worrying about its reception. This type of fearless creativity—combined with rigorous trusted feedback—is crucial for constructing an opus worthy of your pride.

After all, what’s the alternative? Respond to every cavil, niggle, and jab? If you do that, you’ll lose sight of that which you hoped to create in the first place.

Also worth exploring:
Dear Critics (essay)
Fake Outrage (essay)
Seagulls (essay)
Criticism (podcast)
Mean Tweets (podcast)