“Whenever people agree with me, I always feel I must be wrong.” ~Oscar Wilde

What path do you walk in your life?

No matter which path you choose, what we all come to eventually discover is that you’re certain to encounter harsh critics, many who almost seem to live for (and thoroughly enjoy) trying to destroy your self-confidence and derail your dreams.

These are your haters. You need to give thanks for them.

Haters are vicious without concern, malicious without reason. They crush self-confidence and make you second-guess every aspect of who you are. When you take a big chance in life pursuing greatness, striving for excellence or simply daring to dream; your critics, naysayers and haters will only multiply.

Thank God that they exist.

Worry Without Critics

Why did Oscar Wilde feel concern — genuine worry — when people agreed with him? Was he self-loathing or rabidly insecure? Far more likely, Wilde understood the intrinsic value of others disagreeing with his thoughts, opinions and beliefs. It proved to him that his work was having a genuine effect.

Imagine a scenario where you speak to a group of 100 people and voice a thought, belief, or opinion that you intend to genuinely change the world. Something poetic and swift, sharp and forward-thinking. However, when you share it with the audience, every single person in the room whole-heartedly agrees with what you say. No one contends.

Either you magically just changed the world and everyone’s opinions along with it, or something has gone terribly wrong: complete consensus only reveals that the “groundbreaking” message you intended to speak really wasn’t that groundbreaking at all.

Disunity Breeds Better Ideas

Wilde understood that if “the many” agreed with him, clearly the ideas and concepts he presented to the world in his literature were not nearly as revolutionary, groundbreaking and forward-thinking as he desired.

  • Seldom does broad appeal genuinely challenge what needs to be changed.
  • Rarely can total agreement spark rapid innovation and development (“groupthink“).
  • Greatness can’t ever be reached by mollifying the status quo.

Progress, change and innovation can’t ever become reality by reaching a total, unquestioning consensus. Dissent is good, disagreement is strength, and critics reinforce your knowledge that you and your opinions are being heard. In other words, Wilde understood that mass appeal can’t ever change the world.

Giving Thanks for the Haters

Give thanks for your haters not to torture yourself, not to feel bad for yourself, but because they serve a purpose for our dreams’ pursuits. We show gratitude for them not to admire their hatred or to support their rancor, but because they provide us with valuable insight that our lives’ missions to change the world are having an effect.

The best way to attract more haters is to be true to yourself. Haters hate people who are being themselves with a sense of reckless abandon. To attract the haters, be sincere without regret and honest to who you are with brutal disregard.

Without haters to object to your opinions, question your beliefs or challenge your work, your message may not be as Earth-shattering, life-altering or ground-breaking as you might think. If everyone agrees with you, you ought to begin to question it, yourself.

Flickr photo credit: John Goodridge