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Constructive Criticism

Don't get bummed by negative feedback. Instead, get fired up and motivated to do better.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the November 2008 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Someone can say, "Barry, that was great work--excellent!" and compliment me all day long, but it will never have the same impact as someone saying, "Barry, nice try, but you'll never make it in this business, and we're going with someone else for representation." In other words, it's not the pat on my back that gets me fired up; it's the kick in the seat that moves me forward. When you use no to make you go, then all the obstacles in the world become a positive opportunity to focus on a more intelligent path toward your goal. Over the years I have used the methods below to turn all the setbacks into new and greater opportunities.

  1. Question your source. Who is the person you're dealing with that's telling you your idea won't work? What's his knowledge and experience in the field you're pursuing? What makes him think he really knows what you're capable of on the inside? Only you know.
  2. Cultivate three or four mentors. These will be the people with whom you can consult on a given situation. Surround yourself with them to build the strength and enthusiasm you need to continue in rough waters.
  3. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. It is in these uncomfortable spaces that you will experience the most growth.
  4. Absorb, adapt and break through. Changing your strategy based on why the customer is saying no can help you gain access to that difficult account.
  5. Detach yourself from the conflict. When you come back to it, you'll be in a better frame of mind to decide on the best course of action.
  6. Make sure the no is where you want to go. In other words, sometimes it's time to walk away from a situation that will never end up going anywhere. The person or account might be unqualified and unable to benefit from your product, service or expertise.

It's not just your ability to let the nos, rejections or setbacks motivate you to prove people wrong and come back strong, but it's not letting the negative experience cloud your confidence and internal belief for success.

Many years ago I interviewed Senator Bill Bradley, Olympic gold medalist and NBA champion, for one of my first books. Although he lost his share of games, it was his philosophy about failure that helped him get through the rough times. "The taste of defeat has a richness of experience all its own," he said. "And your ability to gain a victory is directly related to your ability to come back from a defeat."

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