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When you’re a writer or an entrepreneur or a job seeker, there’s one element you need to bulk up – your skin. There’s little room for thin-skins in this world. Certainly, there’s no need to endure nastiness or constant castigation, but honest critiques can be helpful.

I tell my students: “Do not take it personally.” Thin skin won’t do you a bit of good; you’ll probably end up shattered, broken and crying in a pitiful puddle in the corner. There are a thousand people out there with a thousand opinions. Everyone has one. One person may love it and the next person hates it. At a writer’s group meeting this week, we discussed reviews and the importance of having both good and bad reviews. Not everyone will think you’re the best thing since sliced bread, and we all agreed it’s good to have a few dissenting opinions.

I do think a key to success in any walk of life is having a short memory and a thick skin – I know it has served me well over the years. — Aubrey McClendon

I’m concerned about this generation coming out of college who seem to be mostly thin-skinned. There seems to be a pattern in that they do not know what it’s like to specifically win or lose. Many take great offense if you don’t think they’re perfect. Students who receive a low grade or even fail, confront their educators and respond, “Well, I showed up so I should pass this class.” Never mind the fact they didn’t do the work or didn’t pass assignment criteria, they think they should pass just because they showed up. Whooptie-doo!

It’s as if they think attendance alone will ensure success. I think that’s come from the parenting mentality the last couple of decades: “Everyone in the league/team/conference gets a trophy/ribbon/award just for participating!” That makes me cringe. Somewhere along the way, parents forget that failing is good for the soul and the ego. It’s a character builder that makes you work harder the next time around.

In real life, you won’t get a reward for everything you do. You really do have to earn it. As a rule, only the top performers are promoted. Only the C-Suite executives are getting the full 40% bonus listed in the job description. (Sure, the same bonus is promised to the manager, but when end of fiscal year comes, the biggest slices go to the top first.) Of course, favoritism and nepotism will never go away, but that’s also a good lesson in itself that if you can’t move forward even when you are good at what you do, it’s time to go elsewhere.

Thick skin is a good thing. It protects your insides while making you tougher on the outside. So buck up. Be kind, be diligent, be aware. But most of all be proud of what you do so that when you do receive that award or accolade, you know you really did deserve it, and not just because you only showed up.

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