HAVE you ever been really proud of something, only to have someone do their level best to dull your shine?
“Oh, there’s no credibility in delivering a TEDx talk.”
“You’ve written a book? Well, anyone can do that nowadays – there’s no credibility in that.”
“You got the gig? Good for you. Doesn’t add to your credibility though.”
Enter the credibility crushers. A bunch of negheads who, for whatever reason, can’t wait to run others’ achievements down.
Whether you’re looking to build your own business brand, get a promotion at work, publish your memoirs, launch a YouTube channel, anything at all that – for you – feels important and like some kind of progression, there’ll be someone waiting to rain on your parade.
There’s another phrase we use for it, here in Blighty, too – a bit more crude, but absolutely to the point – we say someone has pissed on our chips (or strawberries, but that’s a bit too Wimbledon for me).
Whatever you call it, the perps are definitely out there, and I want you to know their opinions really cannot hurt you. You know what they say about opinions, right?
Let’s put ‘Credibility’ into perspective
Shall we look at the word ‘Credibility’ for a moment?
Merriam-Webster defines ‘Credibility’ as follows:
1: the quality or power of inspiring belief
2: capacity for belief
Dictionary.com defines ‘Credibility’ as “the quality of being believable or worthy of trust”.
So why, oh why, do so many people try to belittle the credibility that so many have spent so long building?
Those quotes I’ve listed at the top of this column, though I may be paraphrasing a little, are words I’ve actually heard from people. They haven’t all been directed at me, but I’ve certainly heard them levied at people I know, like and trust.
Hopes and dreams
On LinkedIn, a few months back, someone started ranting about TEDx talks on a thread from someone who had speaking at a TEDx event as one of her goals – it’s something she really wants to achieve to this day, and I’m sure she will.
Enter the credibility crusher, who hit the comment stream like a freight train, going on and on about how those talks meant nothing to anyone.
Why on earth would anyone want to knock someone else’s hopes and dreams?
Just this week, on Facebook, someone else started rolling out the tired, old diatribe about TEDx talks not adding to credibility. The comments were in response to someone who’d posted some pictures from his first TEDx; he was asking advice on how to best use the talk to build his business and brand.
Whatever you think of TEDx talks, they certainly do seem to divide opinions. One of the elements that makes the TEDx platform so tough to get onto is that thousands and thousands of people want to deliver one of those presentations, so organisers are usually swamped with applications.
Clearly, the TEDx brand means something to a huge number of people, not least the 18 million subscribers to the official YouTube platform.
Do they build credibility?
There are some pretty tough rules and regulations to get through in order to have a TEDx presentation considered, let alone accepted, so doesn’t that alone add to the credibility of someone who gets to deliver one of the talks?
Well, we might argue that, however credible their initial submission might have been, it’s the delivery, story and back-up evidence that creates the credibility. It’s not so much doing the talk that brings credibility, but the message, the ideas and evidence behind it, and its delivery, that makes a speaker more credible.
One thing is for sure… in the majority of cases, the one trait people share when knocking someone’s TEDx efforts, or calling the credibility of the platform into question, is that they’ve never actually delivered a TEDx talk themselves.
Now let’s look at those people who call down writing a book as a way to build credibility.
Usually, the argument revolves around how easy it is to self-publish nowadays.
In some ways, they might have a point – it’s the difference between paying to place an advert and attracting positive coverage in the news/feature pages of a newspaper or magazine. If you can just write whatever you like and then pay to have it printed and stick in on Amazon, it doesn’t really do much for your credibility, does it?
Well, yes and no…
When I first wanted to write a book, I absolutely did not want to self-publish. I’m a former journalist and editor so, for me, there was something about wanting to prove to myself that I was good enough to do this – I wanted to be chosen by a publisher and have them believe in my work and ability enough to produce my book. As it happened, I ended up with two different publishers, and I have more works for them in the pipeline.
Does that add to credibility? I believe it does. Think back to the dictionary definition of ‘credibility’ for a moment. Surely, one has to be believable and worthy of trust for a publisher to take a chance on them.
Once that book is out there, we can add positive reviews to the credibility pile too.
Reviews speak volumes
So, what about the self-publishing route? Well, those book reviews still speak for themselves, don’t they? And what are we basing that credibility on, anyway? Even if someone writes a book you’re not particularly a fan of, they win credibility points for the dedication and determination it takes to write a book and put it out there in the first place.
There’s a common trait many of these credibility crushers share with the TEDx naysayers… many of them have never written a book!
How much have they achieved?
It’s the same story playing out when we look at credibility crushers who decry people’s progression in a job, a hobby, a business or even climbing a mountain. Very often, those people aiming at your chips have never actually achieved the very thing they’re decrying.
If you’re feeling a bit battered by the doubters in your life, it might be worth remembering just this.
As I said to one of my aunts, who was telling me just how much she DIDN’T like one of my books: “I’m sorry to hear my book wasn’t to your taste. How many books have you written and successfully had published?”
We need to be able to discern between genuine, helpful feedback and someone just having a pop for the sake of it. What’s more, we need to remember that if something matters to us, IT MATTERS – regardless of what anybody else might think.
When we’re feeling we’ve achieved something, we need to remember that those good vibes come from WITHIN us, and it’s up to us to not allow the less-than-sparkling views from others knock us off track.
Until next time,
NB: This blog first appeared on America Out Loud. Check out my weekly column.