Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thinking about... feedback & fitting in

Recently I asked people why it's so important to us that people like our artwork. In my own life, I'm noticing how that's also true for me about anything that I've really put my heart into. When I offer a workshop, I'm hoping with all my heart that people are going to love it, that they'll feel inspired and hopeful and glad they took part.

There's something wonderful about this. It inspires me to offer my best work and to learn and grow all the time. It comes from a place of deep commitment to the participants and a sincere desire to make a difference in their lives. It makes me see that creating a workshop or a newsletter or a meal or an event is a creative act, and it can be one that you pour your soul into during its creation.

And what happens if despite all that, people don't like it?

Here's what I've learned about how I process that particular situation:
  1. Let yourself feel what you feel. If I'm hurt, disappointed, angry, defiant or whatever else, I get to experience that like a storm until it settles. I don't have to pretend it's not there, judge it, rise above it. I just get to feel what I feel.

  2. Look for learning. Once the storm starts to quiet, I see if there's anything I'd like to respond to. I'm not adjusting the work to this particular person. If I move away from the core of my vision to accommodate someone else, it will start to feel wobbly and I will start to feel more insecure. I'm moving in the wrong direction. But if I use the information to see if I can bring my creation closer to what I dream of for it, then I can use that and improve the work. The difference is palpable.

  3. Let go of what's not useful. If someone just didn't like what I've created or offered or shared, but it's something that I believe in or love or is true to me, I remind myself that not everyone is going to love what I do, and that's fine. What I've learned from the information is that my gift is not for this person. I can let the rest go.

  4. Trust. I remind myself that my people are out there, people who will appreciate my unique gifts and offerings. One of the truly important things about blogging is it allows us to extend our reach in finding our people, so that when we share what is uniquely and authentically our gift, we have more of an around-the-world opportunity for someone to read it and get it.

Molly Gordon talks about how in business we have a niche and we have an offer. I think this is true in life too. Our offer is what we sincerely, authentically bring to this world. It's who we are and what we share. And our niche is that place, that ecosystem according to Molly, in which that offer is easily and recognizably of value. There's nothing to be taken personally about being a rainforest plant who doesn't fit into the desert. Just keep looking for home and reaching out to your people.

How do you manage it when someone doesn't like what you do?


Loes said...

I love what you write here! Before I would get defensive when somebody didn't like what I made or did. Now I'm learning to ask myself if I use their comments to improve. If so, I thank them. If not, I thank them as well, but choose not to do anything with their remarks. It's a bumpy road, but I hope it will get easier along the way... ;0)

daisies said...

i don't know .. i think its one of the things that holds me back, worrying about it ~ i am trying to let go of those things though and reading this was incredibly helpful, thank you honey, xo

Anonymous said...


i really appreciate your posting this. it's something that i struggle with a lot and i'm learning to pause, step back and try to re-formulate how i think about criticism. thank you for the reminder; your timing is perfect!

Anonymous said...

I always have produced my work truly for my self. i find that the capturing of the moment and satisfying myself is very cathartic. is is my means of looking at the world and expressing it non verbally. if someone looks at my work and doesn't like it then i am fine. as in the post above if you then notice something in what they have said to be true you use that constructively. it is my belief that no piece of work is BAD only not to your taste. therefore when you produce these peices for your self and they make you happy then you have acomplished what you set out to do. if you are commision to produce for others then you and the person you are working for need to make sure that what is done is in your style but to their liking... alot of communication is need when you are commisioned far more time must be alloted to the piece.

chest of drawers said...

You should read this:
I have never been able to deal well with criticism but the four agreements have helped me to a new perspective.

Sacred Suzie said...

Oh wow, there is so much good stuff here. I love that quote about the rainforest plant and I love that you were able to step back and truly gain so much insight and wisdom and shared it with us Jamie. Yes, be the storm for a while. That is so necessary. So cleansing and true. There is nothing more truer than a storm I think and we can be like that. Brilliant.

Pearl Maple said...

Thanks for your post on this topic.

Criticism is something I think we are all afraid of more so with our creations because the process of creating is tightly wound up in who we are, the idea comes from our head, the spirit from our heart and worked with our hands, of course we would want everyone to love our creations as we do.

Your suggestions on how to step back and value others comments for their content and allowing everyone to have their own opinions is well presented. Thank you for sharing with us all.

Jessie said...

as your humble circe's circle student, i just want you to know that i LOVE what you do. you are so invested, so heartfelt. i can feel that in everything you do. your energy has helped to propel me forward in so many ways. thank you being a part of my process in this way.

you are a gift.

love you,

Molly Gordon said...

Thank you for an inspiring post and for the mention. Your blog is gorgeous.