Skip to content

Your Biggest Critic (#182)


The Confident Leader


At a recent leadership workshop with a large group of business owners, we started talking about the concept of critics. Interestingly, they had some critical comments about their biggest critics. 

“If my critics saw me walking over the Thames, they would say it was because I couldn’t swim.”

Margaret Thatcher (former Prime Minister of Great Britain)

This Week’s Edition

Who’s your biggest critic?

Clarify Your Thinking

During our discussion, several exasperated leaders asked: “why do some people feel the need to criticize or question my ability to achieve my goals?”

Others cited “critics” who were actively working against them or thought their efforts were a waste of time and energy. 

As the conversation heated up, I asked the group, “why do you care what the critic says?” 

Crickets. No one said a word. Logic had just entered the room. You could almost see the thought bubble over their heads, “yeah… why do we care what they think?”

The reality is, as humans, we do care… often at a deep level. We want to do things “right,” and when we are given input (usually from critics) that we may not be doing it “right,” our brains view that criticism as a threat to our survival (as silly as that sounds). 

It’s called Negativity Bias – tending to process negative feedback more thoroughly than positive feedback.

In coaching sessions, I’ve seen leaders react (and sometimes over-react) to critical feedback, because it affirms something they are already thinking and may be struggling with. The critic’s comments may cause them to feel exposed, wondering, “how does that person know I’ve been wrestling with that?”

Unwittingly, the critic may be speaking directly the to the doubt that already exists in the leader’s thinking. 

Old Thinking: I hate critics. They are so critical. Why don’t they try their hand at this? Don’t they know how hard it is. I’m doing the best I can. 

New Thinking: The external critic may not be my biggest critic. It may be me. They’re speaking directly to an issue I’m currently wrestling with. I need to recognize that doubt in my thinking.

Thoughts Lead to Actions

Will Guidara’s book, Unreasonable Hospitality, recounts his journey to be the number one restaurant in the world. He succeeded. While his main strategy was over-the-top hospitality, that he referred to as unreasonable, I believe he succeeded because he possessed unreasonable belief in his ability to win.

That level of belief is available to you too – wholeheartedly believing you can “win” even in the face of critics. 

Your call to action: Believe at a level that is so unreasonable that it makes your biggest critic actually think they’re right – that you are foolish enough to try. 

At that point of unreasonable belief, it’s up to you to get to work: 

At the end of the day, you have a choice: either be in the arena or be in the stands. 

Boost Your Performance

Critics may not be the issue. Perhaps it’s our thinking. 

Thoughts lead to actions. Actions lead to results.

Remember, your thoughts stem from what your beliefs. When you believe you can do it, it changes your thinking. Just go do your “thing” and see how far you get… usually farther than you think. 

What’s Your Opinion?

Who’s your biggest critic and how do you handle them? Share it with me at

If you are going to be a leader, you might as well be a good one. Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

We live to make bad leadership extinct so forward this newsletter to others who strive to be confident leaders. 


Let’s Connect

Follow me on LinkedinFacebook and Twitter.

What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.