When People Cause You to Feel Inadequate


It was such a surprising thing to hear. The husband of a well-known musician told me that his famous wife frequently feels inadequate. How could she, with so much talent, success and popularity, ever question herself?

Maybe it shouldn’t surprise me, given that musicians constantly put themselves out there. Yes, they get affirmation, but they also receive apathy and rejection.

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Rejection is all around us. For instance, in one of the US presidential debates this year, a candidate was asked how he feels about the criticism he’d received. “Well, it’s part of politics. That’s what I signed up for.”

When you’re met with apathy or rejection in your work, do you ever feel inadequate?

I love my job and I’m really good at it. However, I recently received critical feedback on a presentation I delivered to a client organization, and it stung. My ego was damaged. I ran it through my mind hundreds of times to come up with arguments, justifications and admissions. Despite my thorough analysis, though, I was left questioning myself.

It’s what I signed up for.

Some would counsel that we shouldn’t derive our sense of worth from the opinions of others.

Some would say that trials like these make us stronger.

All of those people are right.

Lately, though, it’s been helpful for me to remember Dale Carnegie’s advice in How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, a book that changed my life:

Cooperate with the inevitable.

My first real job as a teenager was working at a record store selling music to all kinds of people. Great music lovers frequented our store. Some loved classical, others loved hip hop, and some loved rock. Even within a genre, such as country, some preferred certain types of it or only certain musicians. Some loved the same artist but had vastly different opinions about which albums were good and which were bad. (My favorite arguments were about whether Van Halen was better pre or post David Lee Roth.)

It’s inevitable. Everyone has different tastes. Even the best artists won’t appeal to everyone. In fact, even the best artists have their haters.

Do the reactions from others ever cause you to feel inadequate? Perhaps you can cooperate with the inevitable.

It’s what we’ve signed up for.

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