We all want to be liked. We don’t want to look foolish, or do anything that will embarrass us. Who would want that? With everybody living their lives in public on social media, this need to be liked and for our posts, stories, and pictures to be liked, only continues to encourage this behavior. We have a need to be socially accepted; seeking the approval of others. The fear of rejection is very real, which is why people are often uncomfortable speaking in public. They are worried that they will be judged, and will look foolish in front of a group of people.

In addition to this legitimate fear of rejection, we also have a fear of failure. Not necessarily because of the ramifications of that failure unto itself, but for how we will look to others as having failed. Again, leading right back to the fear of not being accepted in our social circles. This need to be liked, to be accepted, and to fit in, is very real and very debilitating.

The road to success is riddled with failure and setbacks. Our fear of failure stops us in our tracks and doesn’t even allow us to get out of the gate. We are worried about what people will think if we fail. “What if this doesn’t work? What if I lose? How will I look?” So we don’t even start. We don’t try. We don’t go for it. We don’t take a risk. How often do we make decisions based on what others may think or say?

That said, this concern isn’t unsubstantiated. There is a lot of noise in this world. There are a lot of people talking, and saying things that aren’t constructive; quite the opposite, actually. With the somewhat anonymity of the internet, there are hurtful, and harmful comments being said all the time. If you do anything, you will be criticized. If you don’t do anything, you will also be criticized for not doing anything. There will always be people that will not agree with you, they will not like what you do, they will not like your work, and they won’t be shy about saying as much. They didn’t like the way Elvis shook his hips, and they determined that the length of the Beatles’ hair was too long. This is life. You cannot please 100% of the people 100% of the time. So I would suggest, you shouldn’t even try. It’s imperative that we don’t listen to the negative comments or the hurtful remarks, and just tune it out.

Getting technical, sound is defined as what we hear. Noise is unwanted sound. When frequencies become inharmonious, they produce noise instead of music. While music has a pleasing effect on the listener, noise is unpleasant to a person because of its irregular wave-form, low frequency, and sudden changes in wave length. Music is pleasing to the ear, while noise is an unpleasant sound. There is a lot of noise, or unpleasant and unwanted sounds in this world. The negative comments, the derisive verbiage, the passive-aggressive remarks are all just a bunch of noise. They are inharmonious comments that should be ignored. In order to accomplish great things, we must learn how to tune out this noise and not care about what people think.

The story of Noah and the ark comes to mind as far as ignoring the public scrutiny of a person’s actions. Noah believed a flood was coming so he spent many years building a massive ark in spite of the ridicule of his peers. Everyone thought he was crazy and did not have kind things to say. Yet, Noah ignored their comments and did what he believed was right. Noah tuned out the noise of the haters and was ultimately victorious for having done so. His life and the lives of his family were saved, and he was responsible and rewarded for repopulating the world after the flood.

The negative comments of others are not constructive, but sometimes it’s the voices in our head that are the most debilitating. We tell ourselves, “I’m not old enough, I’m not smart enough, I can’t do that, that will never work, what will they think of me,” etc. We talk ourselves out of everything. This is what’s often referred to as “stinkin’ thinkin’”. The negative comments are coming from within. How are we supposed to attempt to do anything new or different, or take any risk whatsoever, if we give any credence to the negative, pessimistic self-talk? We cannot escape the noise. It’s coming from other people and it’s in our own heads. Even writing this article, I’m sure some people reading this are thinking “what does he know, or who gives him the right to say this?” And even before I put pen to paper and began writing this, there were voices in my head saying, maybe someone will read this and not like it, or worse yet, maybe no one will read it at all. That might be the most frightening thought of all. You finally get over yourself, take initiative, put yourself out there, and nobody cares. Crickets. It happens all the time. It might be happening right now. But that is not a good reason to prevent us from producing our work. We have to ignore the self-limiting voices in our head.

We must move forward without caring what people think. The fear of rejection stops us from taking initiative and achieving great things. Doing something new, by definition, is different from what’s been done before. We need innovation, new ways to solve old problems. No matter what you do, there will always be someone that disapproves. Ridicule is a guarantee. The sooner we understand this, the sooner we can get over ourselves and get to work.

Other people’s opinion of you is none of your business.

Tune out the noise, follow your heart, and do what’s right.