As you gain an audience for your work, at least two types of people will begin to emerge.
The first are haters. Putting yourself out there by doing work that matters means you will gain haters. No matter how sincere you are or how hard you work, there will always be a group of people who simply do not see the world the same way you do. They will be vocal and they will be fierce.
The second group are your fans. These people look up to you and admire the way you work. They read/watch/listen to everything you put into the world. They seek you out at conferences and send you emails to tell you how great you are.
It can be easy to be convinced that your work doesn’t matter in the face of haters. Haters give our inner fears something to latch on to. “I knew it,” we tell ourselves. And so we shy away from doing our best work. Or, even worse, we harden ourselves to the point that we simply ignore any form of criticism or feedback.
Likewise, it can be easy to be convinced that you’re at the top of your game when you consistently receive praise from fans. They speak to your innermost hopes and dreams. It’s easier to accept the adoration than to acknowledge the ways in which you need to improve. This is how we end up on cruise control, settling for the safest possible work that will continue to bring in the praise.
This is where the power of a community comes into play. Only a group of caring, trusting friends who want to see you grow will be willing to tell you the truth about how you need to improve. Only a group of peers who care about your work will protect you from haters who could care less about your well being and personal development.
The power of a supportive, caring group of friends you trust is remarkable. I can say without question that building a community of remarkable people has transformed the way I think about my work. I believe it will do the same for you.
Start building a community today. When the haters and fans arrive, you will have trustworthy voices to help you stay focused on your true north star, whatever that might be.
I spent wonderful time with too many people to individually name this past weekend at World Domination Summit, the conference that has changed the trajectory of my life over the past four years.
Thank you to each of you for your friendship and for investing in me so heavily. You’ve shown me what it means to have a supportive, encouraging community. Each of you is the inspiration for this post.