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Fit to Lead: Haters Gonna Hate

Fit to Lead is a weekly series sharing the leadership lessons that I learned from getting fit.

As I explain in my book, Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year, I have recently gone through a significant personal transformation. I attribute much of my success to my decision to leverage my years of project management and continuous improvement to accomplish my goal.

Throughout my transformation I learned that there are many important parallels between getting fit and becoming a good leader. There are also lessons that I have learned about fitness from being a good leader. In short there are significant synergies between fitness and leadership.

Fit to Lead is part of my quest to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Haters Gonna Hate

“Tony, I liked you better when you were bigger. Just sayin’…”

This is what an acquaintance of mine told me recently when she saw me for the first time in many months. It was kind of like a punch in the stomach at first given all of my hard work and dedication to getting fit over the past two years. That’s when it dawned on me: I don’t care, she is entitled to her opinion by she doesn’t get a vote in my decisions.

There is an important leadership lesson in this story.

When you are trying to build something and you are pursuing goals there is always going to be somebody who doesn’t agree with you. There are going to be people who want to tell you how to lead your team or live your journey. There will also be naysayers who just try to impede your success for many reasons including to prevent them from looking bad in comparison.

In other words: haters are going to hate!

Your job as a leader is to know when to listen and when to dismiss the haters.

Start by asking yourself what the intent of the feedback was: constructive or destructive. Was the goal of the feedback to help build you up or to tear you down? This isn’t always easy to determine but you have to do it.

If you don’t evaluate the intent of the feedback you will either take it all to heart and give up on your goals or you will dismiss it all and risk missing out on important constructive feedback. If you dismiss all feedback and constructive criticism you also risk becoming arrogant and self-centered and no leader wants that.

If you determine that the feedback is constructive listen to it. Understand what the feedback is and why the person believes what they believe. Ask questions and dig deeper. Then consider whether or not there is something valuable in the feedback. But don’t just take the feedback and go with it. Consider it as input and then make your own decision. Be confident in your goals!

If you determine that the feedback is destructive (like “I liked you better when you were bigger”) dismiss it as quickly as possible. It does not serve you well to internalize anybody’s destructive or critical feedback. It does little more than shake your confidence and your commitment to your goals.

In the words of my buddy Patti, who I respect immensely: you just gotta give that shit to the lord!

Thanks so much for reading this week’s Fit to Lead article. I sincerely hope that you can apply some of these ideas to your own leadership journey starting today. By working to improve our leadership together we can help build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Published inFitness Lessons are Life LessonsGrow Your Leadership