Noise is defined as a sound, especially one that is loud or unpleasant or that causes disturbance.
What we do, or don’t do, is irrelevant. What we achieve, or don’t achieve, is immaterial. Judgements, criticisms, and opinions will flow whether we welcome them or not. Likewise, praise, acclaim, and recognition will appear whether they are warranted or not.
Whether these vastly different responses are deserved or not isn’t the point of this piece. The point is to recognize that both are simply noise, and equally as dangerous if we choose to let them be anything but noise.
Why Should We Care? Criticism is our best friend and our worst enemy. In many ways, it provides our best avenue for growth. Criticism opens our eyes to what we had previously failed to acknowledge, or at the least, delayed to change. It creates an immediate need for something different.
Criticism can also stunt growth. It can destroy confidence, impede our motivation, and send us spinning into a whirlwind of self-questioning and doubt.
But, the same can be said for the other end of the noise spectrum: praise.
Much like criticism, praise can be both our ally and our nemesis. It leads to growth through renewed, and reinforced, confidence. Praise makes us believe what we see in our head, and feel in our heart, is possible. We dream a little more when we are showered with praise.
Praise can slow our progress too. It can lead to complacency, or worse yet, comfort. We like praise so much, we often begin limiting our choices to those things that have the best chance of resulting in praise rather than taking the risks needed to reach our potential.
So, how do we block out the noise?
REAL TALK - Action Steps First we have to embrace the fact there is always going to be noise. Our job is to first recognize it, then to manage it. As important as it is to identify the noise, it’s equally important to acknowledge the music. It’s the music that we want to turn the volume up on.
Know Your Square Squad
Brene Brown shares an exercise in Dare to Lead where she has you draw a 1” x 1” square. Inside the square you write the names of the people closest to you that you trust unequivocally. Think of your inner circle, the people that care about you for who you are, not what you do. It’s probably more than 2 and less than 10. I sometimes refer to these people as my foxhole. They’re more than friends. I have a lot of friends, but I only have a few that are actually in my foxhole.
Listen to Your Square Squad
This is where your music comes from. Your square squad will provide you with accurate, beneficial criticisms and justified, purposeful praise. Don’t question their intent, defend your actions, or dismiss their approval. If they are in your square squad, shut up and listen. They care about you, the person. They may hurt your feelings or pass over your emotions, but they want you to become the person you want to be. Listen.
Hear, Don’t Listen, To the Rest
You can hear what is being said without giving merit to it. If you hear something you think might have substance, ask someone in your square squad. If they tell you it has merit, then you listen. If they tell you it doesn’t, then you completely ignore it moving forward. We give people outside our square squad way too much power over us. They ruin our days or weeks with a flippant critique of something they know little about. Or, we ride around on cloud nine as our standards crash to the ground because of fake praise poured on us from someone not in our foxhole. Stop it.
Turn up the music and turn off the noise. Both are present all the time. It’s our responsibility to distinguish between the two, then turn the right knobs. Your pursuit of excellence is dependent on it! For more information on building excellence in your teams, visit us at www.bluecollargrit.com. We would love to know how we could help!