Do You Need Thick Skin to Be a Success?


Posting anything personal online carries a risk of receiving negative feedback. And in the bigger picture of life, making yourself visible opens you up to experiencing rejection and being misunderstood.

Recently, someone posted a very critical, condemning comment about my work. It presented an opportunity for me to answer a question I get from many people in my audience – how am I willing to be so transparent, and how do I deal with the inevitable criticism?

In this podcast episode, I consider the consequences of having thick skin, and an alternative way to manage negative feedback.

Many people think that it’s essential to develop thick skin to operate at high levels of business and financial power. After sharing this comment, I received a lot of encouragement from my community, praising my “thick skin” and acknowledging how important it is as a characteristic. Let me explain why I don’t think this is a helpful approach to dealing with criticism.

Thick Skin vs. Healing and Wholeness

I don’t have thick skin! If you’ve followed my content for even a short time, you know that I’m a super emotional person. That’s part of who I am. It’s a valuable part of the human condition to experience emotions, and it’s a major part of what helps me to perform effectively as a coach and speaker. So I’m not going to give up my humanity for the sake of business or financial success.

Instead, I’m able to respond and not react when I encounter criticism because I have healed my wounds.

Usually, the things that are painful to hear are touching an existing wound – an insecurity, a limiting belief, or maybe trauma. If a wound is healed, then it’s easy to acknowledge criticism without absorbing it. The present condition of your past wounds determines how you respond to criticism.

You probably already know that I’m a huge advocate for the power of therapy.

We’re willing to pay professionals for all kinds goods and services, everything we put on our bodies – clothes, hairstyles, accessories – but often resist investing in a professional to help us address what’s in our minds. Cost and time can be enormous barriers to pursuing treatment, however, which is why I’m so excited to partner with Better Help, the sponsor of this episode.

If you’re responding to other’s successes and failures with a lot of emotion, then you may have wounds to heal, like I did.

You live where your mind told you to move.

If you learned that you can only exchange time and hard work for money, without developing other ways of building income, then your mind may live in a place of envy or judgment of those who find more strategic methods of financial growth.

If you learned that you have to sacrifice everything to start a new business, then you might feel bitter toward those who find ways to maintain balance.

If you learned that it’s gross or greedy to have so much income that you have the option to purchase luxury items and experiences, then you might get heated when you see wealthy people make those kinds of purchases.

Rather than celebrating the people who have what we want, we try to diminish them because we can’t handle the tension of seeing what’s possible for others to achieve and not believing that we can have it, too.

If these are the kinds of intense reactions you have as a result of your own mindset about money, or if you uncover other limiting beliefs of your own after listening to this episode, I highly encourage you to seek therapy so that you can heal. Then, as you work to achieve fulfillment and are inevitably met with criticism, you will no longer have intense, emotional reactions to judgment, because you will be healed and those wounds will no longer be open. You will be whole.

What are the fears that stop you?

Do you have limiting beliefs about money or anything else that stand in the way of you achieving fulfillment and happiness?

Does fear of others’ judgment prevent you from showing up to do your best work?

What are your thoughts on thick skin versus wholeness as a means to handle criticism?

Comments like the one I shared in this episode used to hold me back from pursuing my goals, until I learned to accept that the more I grow, the more I need to be willing to be misunderstood by some people.

What about you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!