Okay, first off: this is a blog about writing and about living an awesome life. It’s not a political blog. But whether you hate one of these candidates for POTUS and you love the other, or you hate them both, or you love them both (which is unusual and I kind of want to hear about that!), there’s something to learned from Clinton and Trump’s success so far.
Both of these presumptive presidential nominees have very high unfavorable ratings.
I’ve seen a few reactions to Clinton’s and Trump’s unfavorables that go kind of like this:
(from Clinton and/or Trump supporters):
“Oh yeah? If s/he’s so unlikeable, how come everybody voted for him/her?”
(from haters of both Clinton and Trump):
“Candidates are winning even though people don’t like them. This just goes to show that the system is broken.”
Like a lot of people, I have my own ideas about how the U.S. political system could be better, but both of these comments are off.
Many people definitely do hate Clinton and Trump. And many people like them a lot and voted for them.
Let me back up that second point about people liking them. Gallup did a poll that found that Trump and Clinton had the most enthusiastic supporters in their respective races, with Trump having the most enthusiastic supporters overall.
In Gallup’s Most Admired Women poll, Hillary Clinton has taken the #1 place twenty times — more than any other man or woman in the history of their annual “most admired” polls. Mr. Trump came in an impressive third place on the Most Admired Men list, behind Barack Obama and the Pope.
So lots of us can’t stand Clinton, Trump, or both. And a lot of us love at least one of them. What’s my point?
I think as creative people, and in life in general, we are always trying to minimize the negative feedback we get instead of trying to maximize the positive. When we encounter criticism, we can sometimes back down, withdraw, and see it as a sign of failure. But “try not to be hated by anyone” is a terrible strategy.
In the book of Revelations in the Bible, it says: “So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth” — a verse that, as a child who read the Bible for fun after church every Sunday, I found compelling, mysterious, and more than a little harsh. But there’s something to it.
Way back in 1985, Coca-Cola tried to come up with a product formula that would appeal to more people, including those who preferred Pepsi. In blind taste tests, focus groups loved the new formula! They rolled out what became known as New Coke…
And everyone hated it. It lacked an “edge” that Coke lovers appreciated. They felt like they were drinking second-rate soft rock music (I’m guessing here.) Coke quickly went back to the old formula, spurring such a strong surge of sales (wow, alliteration) that some people suspected this had been their marketing ploy all along, though it really wasn’t.
I will give one more food example. A few years ago, advertising for Marmite embraced the fact that people love it or hate it. (I love it!) It was a wildly successful campaign.
I guess I’m saying that as a creative person, and as a person, it doesn’t pay to change yourself in order to cater to the haters.
(“DON’T CATER TO THE HATERS.” Yay, I just wrote a slogan.)
The entertainer Dita Von Teese wrote:
You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.
On a personal level, when I’m being my best and truest self, it annoys the crap out of some people. And that can tempt me to rein myself in: to speak less, and to hide my passion and positivity, my humor and enthusiasm. But that’s not going to get me anywhere.
In my writing, I occasionally feel pressure to alter what I love and live for in stories to suit expectations and trends, but the hell with that.
I think it’s important for people to remember that winners earn haters.
They get fans, the admiration of friends, accolades, satisfaction in life, and money, and they get haters too. It is a package deal.
As an example: my first novel, bless its heart, hung out on Amazon and GoodReads for years with no bad reviews — just a few good ones. Why? Hardly anyone was buying it.
Now I have mostly great reviews, but I also have one-star reviews that imply that I maybe, you know, should not actually exist. And now I’m actually making some money off my writing (it’s not quit-your-day-job money, but it’s go-on-a-vacation money!) If you have a little success, you will be rewarded with detractors.
Here’s what I’m saying. Don’t hide in your shell just because a few people made some snarky comments about you, or because you got some rejections or a bad review. It’s better to have some people hate you and/or your work than to have everyone’s reaction be: “Meh.”
The surrealist Jean Cocteau wrote:
What the public criticizes in you, cultivate. It is you.
Now of course, being yourself isn’t that impressive if yourself is a jerk. In your life and in your work, you have to hold yourself to a moral standard in order to be truly happy as well as successful in the long run. You have to help people and not hurt them. You have to spread love and empathy rather than hatred and judgement.
But as long as you’re doing that?
Don’t get daunted by hate. Pay attention to what you love about yourself and what other people love about you, even if it’s what some people hate about you. Amplify it by a thousand. You’ll be amazed at what can happen.