May 10

Do you know where the phrasepeanut gallerycame from? It was a term from the days of vaudeville, when traveling shows would go from town to town selling tickets to the locals. The cheapest seats were—of course—in the very back of the stands. To increase the revenue per customer in these cheap seats, the show would sell peanuts as snacks. Often, these cheap seat holders would express their dislike of the show by hurling peanuts at the performers. So as you were onstage pouring your heart into the performance, you might be pelted with peanuts by people who barely paid anything to be there. Talk about demeaning.

Often the loudest people in today’s metaphorical peanut gallery are the critics. They love to pelt you with their virtual peanuts—snide com- ments, mockery, uneducated critique—the moment you put your work in the world.

Don’t listen to them. Listen to the people in the arena with you. Listen to those who also vulnerably share their work with the world. As Brené Brown wrote, “If you’re not in the arena with the rest of us, fight- ing and getting your ass kicked on occasion, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

Trust feedback from someone who understands vulnerability. Ignore feedback from those who critique from their safe, cheap seats.

Listen to people who are in the arena with you. Ignore the others.


Do you ever let the critiques of the peanut gallery get to you? Whom should you be listening to instead?

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