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A Simple Mindset Shift to Silence the Internal and External Critics in Your Life

A highly-criticized Super Bowl show teaches a powerful lesson in dealing with criticism.

5
minute read
Published on
April 19, 2024
Students taking notes at CORE | The Breakthrough Experience.

Stepping into the spotlight comes with taking the chance you’ll be criticized. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, thought leader, or professional or aspiring speaker, having the confidence to give your best performance every time you step on stage requires dealing with the criticism you encounter.

Just ask Bruno Mars.

The Super Bowl Spotlight  

After winning the Grammy for best pop album and finishing a concert tour that grossed $72.4 million, pop performer Bruno Mars was chosen to headline the halftime show at the January 2014 Super Bowl. But his immense popularity and musical genius didn’t stop the online critics from bashing the singer in the days leading up to the big performance. 

The atmosphere of anticipation grew and grew as naysayers and a chorus of online media voices criticized Mars, calling him a baby-faced lightweight not ready for prime time. Many said that he hadn’t proven himself enough on big stages, and wasn’t prepared for the pressure of the Super Bowl performance.

After all, he wasn’t a universally anointed musical industry giant like Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce, Madonna, or Paul McCartney. Simply put, according to the critics, Bruno Mars wasn’t a safe choice, and that made some observers antsy.

Uplift the People  

Bruno’s response was one of a true performer, an example of someone who has put in the work to silence the inner critics and ignore the naysayers.

When asked about the controversy around the selection at a news conference, Bruno said, “No matter where I perform, it’s my job to uplift the people,” he said. “So whether I’m performing at a graduation party, a wedding, a Bar Mitzvah, the Grammys, or the Super Bowl, I’m going to give it all I got.  Whatever happens, happens.”  

That’s your job—to uplift the people.

Let other people worry about whether what you’re doing is going to be a career breaker or career maker.  The great performer knows that’s a false either/or.  She will take the risk because the bigger the risk and the higher the stakes, the greater the opportunity to create something exciting, moving, meaningful, shocking, and inspiring. 

The performer knows how easy it is to criticize, and that there’s no point in sorting through it all. You’ll be well served if you simply do your best and care more about the quality of your work than pre-performance applause or the apoplectic antagonists.

Silencing the External Critics

There are two types of criticism that will shut you down or make you play small: the internal kind that comes from the voices of judgment that run rampant in your brain, and the external kind that comes from members of an audience, your peers, or superiors. 

External criticism can arrive as pot shots from the rude person in the front row or as toxic office gossip that can tear apart a team. Then there are times when a supervisor, peer, or loved one wants to give helpful feedback but doesn’t know how to do so effectively. Words that were meant to help can turn into daggers that cut you in all the right places. 

As much as we’d like to avoid it, we are always going to face the external fault-finders. But we don’t have to play that role ourselves and become our own worst critics. 

Silencing the Internal Critic

Our brains do a great job of screening repeating loops of how things will go wrong when we take the stage and step up to the mic, literally or figuratively. These images and voices typically come to us from our childhood because the criticism and doubts of our parents and caregivers leave deeper tracks in our minds than many of the other “judgers” later in life (though these can come back to us as well).

However, the more you pay attention to this chatter, the more you hear it because fear activates your stress responses. As you work to silence your critical, doubting internal voices, you decide to be the author of your story and create the story that you desire.

Don’t let your doubts, worries, fears, and insecurities write your story, instead, pick up the pen and start silencing your negative self-talk. Because, ultimately, isn’t that the secret to successful performance in all parts of your life?

If the voices in your head put you down, make you feel small, or tell you that you’re not good enough; it’s not likely you’ll get too far. However, if the voices in your head are positive, encouraging and supportive, telling you that you absolutely are capable of achieving your goals and dreams, you’ll do just that.

Make the Mindset Shift

Returning to the advice of our friend Bruno Mars: while you and I might not be movie or music stars and may only give a game-changing performance a few times a year, our job as performers is to uplift the people.  

Avoid focusing only on yourself and worrying if what you’re doing is good enough. Focus on your audience and their wants, needs, dreams, and fears and how to solve the problems they are facing in their lives. You’ll find that when you truly embrace the role of serving your audiences, you’ll silence both the doubting inner voices and the critical external ones.

When you make this important mindset shift from you to your audience, you’ll be better able to rise above the noise, and to give your audience, whomever that may be, a powerful experience that will change their thinking about their work, ignite their passions to make a difference, or believe in something new about themselves.

When your focus turns to your audience, it’s easier to get them to say “yes” to your request for a salary bump, or “yes” to investing in your company, or “yes” to booking you for a keynote spot

Don’t give critics the chance to slow you down—and don’t let the critic inside you do that either. 

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