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Ignore Your Critics
by Tom Goodman
November 6, 2009

I drop in on Seth Godin's blog every now and then.  Recently he gave some sound advice:

Ignore your critics.

This sounds counterintuitive.  Aren't we supposed to do exit interviews with those who are dissatisfied?  Aren't we supposed to learn from everyone, even our enemies?  Haven't we been told that our critics are helpful for self-evaluation because our friends will only tell us what we want to hear?

But Godin says, "The critics are never going to be happy with you.  That's why they're critics.  You might bore them by doing what they say, but that won't turn them into fans....  Changing your act to make them happy is a fool's game."

Of course, your critics aren't the only ones to ignore.  "You should ignore your fans as well," Godin writes.  "Your fans don't want you to change; your fans want you to maintain the essence of what you bring them but add a laundry list of features.  You fans want lower prices and more contributions, bigger portions and more frequent deliveries."

So, who should you listen to?  "You should listen to the people who tell the most people about you," Godin says.  "Listen to the people who thrive on sharing your good works with others.  If you delight these people, you grow."

Godin's writing to business leaders, but there's some wisdom here for those of us who lead churches.  From organizing activities to teaching lessons to leading music to setting the pace and direction of a church -- well, you're going to get your share of criticism.

We'd like to sound super-spiritual and say that the only one we aim to please is the Lord.  At one level, of course, that's absolutely true.  But the Lord assigns us to lead people, and if what we do isn't resonating with anyone, we're not doing any real leading.

As someone famously put it, "He who thinketh he leadeth and findeth no one following is only taking a walk."

So, you have to pay attention to how people are reacting to you.  But ignore the critics.  Ignore the fans.  Pay attention to those who thrive on sharing with other what they like about what you do.


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