Sorting the Good from the Bad

In Part One of Naked...and Lacking, I stripped us and put our vulnerabilities, imperfections, and fears on the stage under some hot lights and unforgiving judges.

It didn’t feel so great to me. How about you?

Why even put yourself out there at all?

Because every once in a while, I actually learn something useful about my work, my character, and myself.

But now, after asking for review from multiple people, what do we do with all the comments, advice, and words of wisdom? How do we sort the good from the bad? The shiny silver from the rusty nails?

Consider the Source.

This seems obvious, but sometimes I lump everyone in one category and label them knowledgeable.

Yep—Aunt Jane the recluse, Sarah my cyber writing friend, Jim the dude at Discount Tire, or Barry the meat guy at Kroger—all in the same category.

I shouldn’t give weight to Aunt Jane’s ideas on a first date when I know her last boyfriend put out a restraining order in 1985, ask Sarah or Jim for advice on how to paint a watercolor, or seek single Barry’s words on raising my Exorcist toddler.

But I do.

Instead, how much smarter would it be to seek out experts who have been where I am and learn from their failures and their successes?

Open your heart and listen to someone who gets you, someone who has trudged the path already. Follow in their footsteps and file everyone else’s comments away for later. Don’t throw them out entirely though. Sometimes you find unexpected gems in the last person you would expect.

Give it Time.

Put space between you and the comments others make.

Mull over what your critics have said. Sleep on it. Don’t make any major changes in your life—work, family, art—until you’ve taken a breather. Often, time alone brings clarity. It’s okay to wait to make a decision. Really.

Understand Confusion.

You’ve received conflicting advice—from two sources you respect.

Now what?

Know the lie of confusion when you see it. Confusion never comes from God. Confusion never leads to positive decisions. Confusion clouds the issue.

It’s hard for me to recognize who to listen to and who to ignore. I want to be teachable. I want to be better, stronger, faster. I want to grow as a person and as a creative. The downside to that? Falling into the trap of taking bad advice. Bad advice can be a hundred times worse than no advice at all.

So whom do you listen to?

Yourself.

Deep down, you know what’s right. Your heart is smart. Trust it. And don’t be afraid to take a chance on a new idea, new job, or a new relationship.

The worst thing that can happen? Failure. Failure holds worth in that if you are perceptive, you won’t make the same mistake next time.

I grow the most, personally and spiritually, from my flops because those moments stay with me. Those mishaps are nailed to my heart and they make me a better mentor, friend, and critic because I learn what not to do.

So what now?

Dig up your confidence. Mull over your options. Learn to trust yourself.

Leave a comment and let us know you are learning to trust yourself and stay tuned for part three of Naked...and Lacking: Put Your Clothes Back On