The Fear of Criticism can be crippling. The fear of criticism on many levels is a prime contributor to a lack of success. At some point, we all must learn to let others think what they will in order to free ourselves to succeed. Here, Napoleon Hill talks about the Fear of Criticism, and makes some very valid (and unfortunately recognisable) observations in regards to its profound effect on the lives of average men and women.
Examining The Fear
Let’s examine some of the symptoms of the Fear of Criticism. The majority of people permit relatives, friends, and the public at large to influence them so heavily that they cannot live their own lives, because they live in fear of being criticized.
Huge numbers of people make mistakes in marriage, stay in the relationship for years, and live miserable and unhappy, because they fear the criticism that might follow if they do something to correct the mistake. (Anyone who has submitted to this form of fear knows the irreparable damage it does, by destroying ambition, self-reliance, and the desire to achieve).
Millions of people give up on going back to school to acquire belated educations because they fear criticism.
Countless numbers of men and women, both young and old, permit relatives to wreck their lives in the name of duty, because they fear criticism. (Duty does not require any person to submit to the destruction of his personal ambitions and the right to live his own life in his own way).
People refuse to take chances in business, because they fear the criticism which may follow if they fail. The fear of criticism, in such cases is stronger than the DESIRE for success.
Too many people refuse to set high goals for themselves, or even neglect choosing a career, because they fear the criticism of relatives and “friends” who may say “Don’t aim so high, people will think you are crazy.”
But What Will People Say?
When Andrew Carnegie suggested that Napoleon Hill devote twenty years to organizing a philosophy of individual achievement his first impulse of thought was fear of what people might say. The suggestion set up a goal for Hill, far out of proportion to any he had ever conceived. In a flash, Hill says, his mind began to create alibis and excuses, all of them traceable to the inherent fear of criticism. Something inside of him told him, “You can’t do it–the job is too big, and requires too much time–what will your relatives think of you? How will you earn a living? No one has ever organized a philosophy of success, what right do you have to believe you can do it? Who are you, anyway, to aim so high? Remember your humble birth—what do you know about philosophy—people will think you are crazy—(and they did)—why hasn’t some other person done this before now?”
These and many other questions flashed into Hill’s mind, and demanded attention. It seemed as if the whole world had suddenly turned its attention to him with the purpose of ridiculing him into giving up all desire to carry out Mr. Carnegie’s suggestion. And yet, here we are today, seventy years later, reading the timeless secrets to financial success which Hill researched and revealed for the first time ever, because he fought the fear of criticism. Who’s laughing now?
People will always have something to say; by adulthood, this is something we all come to understand, although not necessarily accept. Never can you satisfy everyone, and never can you do a single thing without someone having an opinion about it. But none of this matters. What matters is that you stay true to yourself—to your goals, ambitions, and your own personal success. I truly believe, as Napoleon Hill did, that every one of you has what it takes to be successful and wealthy, just as soon as you clear the meaningless roadblocks from your path and allow your ambitions and desires to drive you instead of the public opinion polls.
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