Why are insults stickier than compliments?

I got my first client for Brutal First Impressions yesterday! She wrote to me today telling me how useful my service was and how much she appreciated the unbiased opinion. I read her sweet words and was flattered, but then I went about my day as usual. A few hours later, I checked Facebook, and noticed a stranger had shared my BFI facebook page with a message saying “who would ever pay for this?” After reading that I was in a bad funk for hours.

Why did the great words someone went out of her way to write to me affect me for a few short minutes, but a mean comment lingered in the back of my mind for hours? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all dwelled on compliments the way we dwell on insults.

At the end of the day I have to embrace any insults hurled at my business because it means that I am growing. I’m leaving the safe bubble of people who care about my feelings, and entering a larger playing field where, yes, some people might not like me or my ideas.

It’s ironic that I have such thin skin when I have a business where I brutally judge people; however, I think it’s my thin skin that makes me better at consulting. I know how to give feedback in a caring, sensitive way that motivates someone to improve themselves not tear themselves down. I want to continue helping people be the best versions of themselves and grow my business so I know I need to thicken my skin so I don’t waste hours in a funk. The only way to thicken my skin is to expose it to the elements and that includes insults. But it also means surrounding myself with supportive people as well. Please follow Brutal First Impressions on Facebook, and remind me that I have an amazing support network 🙂

Gettin’ back to basics…

I love painting. I was known as the artist in Middle School and High School. My textbooks were marked up with doodles. I went to art camp. I went to an art college. I even got my Masters in art education. However, as soon as I graduated I dropped the brush. Why the sudden change? Did I get into a terrible car accident and lose all feeling in my hand? Did I develop an allergic reaction to paint? Am I still searching for my long lost muse? Nope. The problem is I became too smart. Yep. Too smart.

I studied art criticism, minored in art history, and became a huge art-snob. I never wore all black or a beret, but I did visit lots of galleries with my arms crossed and my eyes rolled over. Once I knew what was good, it was impossible to live up to it. Anything I made felt trivial, derivative, juvenile (and not in a good Debuffet sense (See! I’m already sounding like an art-snob again)). I could already hear the critics voices before making a single mark.

The problem is that I knew I wasn’t the best. Not technically nor conceptually. But here’s the catch. I buy lots of art, and it’s not the best, but I still love it. If there was only one artist who was the best, there would only be one museum in the world. If every band stopped making albums because they’re not as good the Beatles, who would I listen to when I’m cleaning the toilet? The point is we have to accept not being the best, and not letting that stop us. Average is pretty darn good. I’ve been inspired by lots of average people. If you have even a drop of talent, then your average is probably going to seem great to someone else.

Which leads me to my first painting in four years. I love cats. Can’t get enough of their furry little faces, and twitchy little ears. I never wanted to paint cats before, because, well, that’s stupid. Cat’s are not a serious subject matter. How’s that going to challenge my viewer? It’s too cute (the worst adjective you can possibly use when talking to a serious artist about their work). But whatever. I like looking at this painting of my cat, Reilly. It makes me smile when I walk past it in the hallway. My HeSo is feeling pretty darn good. So what if it’s not going to hang in the Moma. At least I’m doing something.

I did this in about an hour and a half. I didn’t put much thought into it before starting, and I stopped when I was tired of looking at it. I posted it on Facebook thinking no one would really notice.  I was blown away by people’s responses. People I haven’t spoken to in years were telling me that the painting brightened their day. No one said “Oh Tracy, you can’t paint cats. That’s stupid.” Which leads me to these two conclusions:

No one is as hard on you as yourself.

People love creativity and want you to succeed.

Once your internalize these two truths, it makes everything a lot easier. I challenge you to make something today that you think is stupid, and then post it somewhere for the world to see. You’ll be surprised how much people will support you.