If criticism pisses you off, this is a must read

The problem with good ideas is that they’re a dime a dozen. Once you know enough and you’ve trained your brain to have good ideas, you’ll see them all around you, and it won’t take any brain power to have them. The challenge is in balancing competing good ideas. Sometimes what separates a good idea from a great one is that the good idea exists in a vacuum, not taking into account other variables. Our world is chaotic, there’s so much going on that something that might seem like a good idea has unforeseen downsides once we take into account everything else going on around us.

As I write this, I have 20 examples of this very phenomena, and 100 tips, tricks, and pieces of proof that I can use to illustrate my point. It seems like a good idea to include as much proof as possible, and to take the time to contextualize what I’m saying so that everyone who stumbles upon this will grasp the idea, no matter where you’re coming from. But what seems like a good idea can often be 100% wrong. If I use too many examples, I might introduce confusion. If I keep trying to prove my point, I might start beating a dead horse, droning on and on, and losing the reader. Better yet, if the article is too long, you might not start reading it to begin with.

On that note, I’ll wrap this up by discussing criticism. When you receive criticism, it isn’t to say that your ideas are bad, or that what you’re doing is wrong, it’s to share additional context and information to introduce the question of “was that the best idea?”. Best is subjective. Best depends on the variables at play. If someone critiques your work and you don’t agree with it, that’s ok. Maybe the variables that matter to you are different than your criticiser. Maybe you knew about those additional variables but still think your idea is best. As long as you’re able to take in criticism, and be objective and without bias, you should be in the clear.

Good ideas are all around us. The challenge isn’t to have a good idea, the challenge is to work toward the best idea.

How to respond to angry people – even when that person is you

Anger is a villain. It’s the bad guy in every scenario. It’s the thing that leads us to making mistakes – saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing. When you’re angry you stop listening, you stop thinking clearly.

This isn’t just me saying this. It’s science. Anger exists in the amygdala. The lizard brain. The tiny, un-evolved part of your brain that produces our fight or flight response. It’s primal. Unsophisticated. It isn’t what you should rely on when making important decisions, or handling important scenarios.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever get angry. Getting angry is a normal, natural response to annoying people, upsetting situations, and frustrating news. We all get angry, and getting to a point where we minimize the number of times we get angry will take years. In the meantime, the best approach is to get past your anger. Slow down, recognize your anger, understand where it’s coming from, and remind yourself that anger is the problem.

I read somewhere the idea that if you’re arguing with someone, it’s not you against them, it’s the two of you against the problem. If someone (either you or the person you’re interacting with) is angry, whatever the cause of the problem or the bigger picture issue is, it’s irrelevant as long as anger exists. You must first get past the anger before moving on to solving the bigger issue.