Some things in isolation aren’t a big deal, but when it happens in a stream of events it really takes a toll. That’s a little of how this last month was. I was feeling the weight of everything from being sick, busy, dealing with personal and work matters, and all these things were building up and being magnified upon each other. I found myself wondering, “why am I doing this to myself?” Why couldn’t I choose a nice, quiet life, with a steady job– something easier and less demanding? If you’re a business owner, creator, or in another career where you deal with various people and pressures, you might have wondered the same things. These piling moments had me feeling desperate and defensive for space as I felt in the open, and susceptible to criticism and commentary. I didn’t previously quite realize being a coffee shop owner would come with the price of living a life on blast.
Thinking of Starting a [Coffee Shop] Business
I did for a little bit at one point. I knew that in 2015 when I started the blog and social media it would be a bit much, and it took a while (and still is) to get used to. I have to constantly remember my purpose in this is to inspire, build people up, encourage, teach, and to share and bring others into a coffee life that I wish I had a peek into when I was first starting. I know why I do it and try not to let others bring me down otherwise. But there was a moment in the beginning when someone close accused us of being “ostentatious” in the way we lived our lives. That thought bothered me, and I again analyzed why I do what I do. I brought it up to my sweet friend Kim, and started crying at the weight of being accused and misunderstood. She challenged me to be sure of my intentions and calling to start a coffee shop, then reminded me of the reality of choosing to put my life on display by sharing my story through social media: this comes with the risk of being misunderstood and criticized. If you have a life people can see, there is just more opportunity to to be accused.
sometimes the price of stepping out involves the risk of being misunderstood and criticized
And that’s what I was reminded again this month. A couple bad reviews, people well-meaningfully (sometimes?) sharing their opinion of how to run our shop, serving people when I felt I had nothing left– these little moments weighed in on me and had me questioning why I chose this life. I was really feeling the pressure that people are always watching and I’m always having to be “on.” I didn’t think through the fact that a job like this is a life on blast, and that means it’s widely open to criticism, comments, complaints, and people always giving their two cents or wanting something from you.
So, if you’re ready to start your own business or coffee shop, are you ready to handle the heat? There are moments when mistakes, misunderstanding, criticism, and demands all seem to come at the same time, and there’s no running away. There are moments when you feel you have to be “on” always– physically, emotionally and mentally. These aren’t necessarily terrible in themselves and I don’t blame those who speak criticism into my life. In fact, it pushes me to grasp my purpose even more; it does make us stronger as people. But sometimes you don’t feel strong, there are high highs and low lows, and this is the reality to grasp. This is all the cost of having a job, and a lifestyle on blast.
Dealing with Criticism
After being wiped out from all these thoughts and feeling like I couldn’t take anymore, I started reading this week’s chapter of Leadership Gold by John Maxwell. The first line of the chapter: “One of the prices of leadership is criticism.” BAMN! I was reminded that I’m not being criticized because I’m in the wrong place, on the contrary I kind of know I’m in the right place because I’m being criticized. Criticism is inevitable when we DO things, MAKE choices, LIVE life, and then SHARE it with others! And is it worth it? That’s something to ask yourself, and is based on your own purpose and passion rooted within. Which is why I do welcome criticism because it forces me to clarify the value of staying in the ring.
“One of the prices of leadership is criticism” -John Maxwell
In case you’re curious, John Maxwell gives four points in dealing with criticism:
- Know yourself. Have a realistic view of your own weaknesses so you know what to do about them.
- Change yourself. If the criticism is constructive and has merit, have an attitude open to self-improvement to grow from it. How to determine if criticism has merit? Ask: “Who criticized you -How was it given – Why was it given?”
- Accept yourself. If you know who you are and have worked to change yourself, then be yourself, not what others want you do be. Unapologetically be you.
- Forget yourself. Secure people forget about themselves so they can focus on others. In this way we can face criticism and even serve our critics.
In my low moments I don’t want to deal with all this anymore. I just want to get away and escape into a quiet place, away from people and having to explain and prove and defend myself. In fact, Maxwell mentions it’s important to be secure in who you are and to focus on others, because when we focus on defending ourselves we actually get distracted and spend time not getting what we need to get done. There’s a balance between processing and learning from criticism, but not letting it take the time it deserves away from your callings.
Criticism is inevitable when we DO things, MAKE choices, LIVE life, and then SHARE it with others
Then I remember why I’m doing this and that there’s a greater picture here, and we can’t live the rewarding high’s without dealing with the inevitable criticism and misunderstandings from the path we’re taking. We started our own businesses and paved our own paths not because it would be easy, but because at the end of the day it’s worth it. It’s right.
Can you relate? How do you deal with criticism from the career lifestyle you chose? As an aspiring coffee shop owner, you’ll feel the opposition even in the dream stages, but know that it continues long afterwards too. Consider if this cost is worth it. However, a little criticism has little weight compared to the reward of our life’s callings.
“By your own soul learn to live. And if men thwart you, take no heed. If men hate you, have no care: sing your song, dream your dream, hope your hope and pray your prayer.” -Parkenham Beatty