One of the most surprising and disappointing things about reaching an important goal is that many people won’t share your happiness when they hear about it. Some will even criticize your achievement.

This has happened to me a lot in my success-driven life. The criticism always hurts – but it hurts less now than it did when I was younger. Moreover, I’ve learned to profit from it. You can too.

What’s important, I’ve found, is not the criticism itself but how I react to it. Praise motivates me to do more of what I’m doing. Criticism – which used to make me want to quit – spurs me to examine what I’m doing and see if I can do it better.

This happened just recently after I published an article in my Ready, Fire, Aim newsletter about the economy. Two of my most esteemed colleagues read it, didn’t like it, and chastised me for bad writing. That set me aback. I consider myself to be a pretty good writer, but they made me wonder if I was really just a shallow-minded pundit of mediocrity.

After doubting myself for a few days, I set to the task of profiting from their comments. I reread what they said and made notes on those points I thought were valid. I circulated my notes to Jason, Suzanne, and Judith, my editors. That began an ongoing discussion about how we could improve Ready, Fire, Aim. And we came up with a few good ideas.

I then wrote to my two friends who were nice enough to honestly critique my article. I thanked them for helping me make the newsletter better. And I meant it.

In What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, Marshall Goldsmith talks about how important feedback is to success:

Feedback is very useful for telling us “where we are.” Without feedback… we couldn’t have results. We couldn’t keep score. We wouldn’t know if we were getting better or worse. Just as salespeople need feedback on what’s selling and leaders need feedback on how they are perceived by their subordinates, we all need feedback to see where we are, where we need to go, and to measure our progress.

Goldsmith acknowledges that negative feedback “can be employed by others to reinforce our feelings of failure, or at least remind us of them – and our reaction is rarely positive.” Worst of all, negative feedback can sometimes shut us down. “We close ranks, turn into our shell, and shut the world out.”

When Goldsmith was a child, his mother told him he had no mechanical skills. He went through high school believing that, and, when he was 18, scored at the bottom of the entire nation in a test given by the U.S. Army.

A few years later, a professor persuaded him to take another look at his mechanical abilities. That’s when he realized his mother was wrong, and he was “just living out the expectations [he] had chosen to believe.”

So that might be the first thing to say about profiting from criticism. Recognize that a negative comment about you or your abilities cannot damage you unless you let it.

Goldsmith says that he wasted years, convinced that he was mechanically inept. But he didn’t blame his mother. He blamed himself. “I was the one who kept telling myself, ‘You can’t do this!’ I realized that as long as I kept saying that, it was going to be true.”

Here are some useful techniques for profiting from criticism.

1. Remember that criticism is the price of success.

As writer Elbert Hubbard said, “Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” So if you do something, you’re going to be subject to criticism. President Obama gets criticized. Clint Eastwood gets criticized. Even Mother Theresa was criticized. The more success you have, the more criticism you will engender. Some of it will be helpful. Most of it will be useless. But don’t be afraid of it. It won’t kill you. It will only make you stronger.

2. Dump your failure-support group.

This group includes jealous friends, professional enemies, and habitual critics. These people get their kicks from kicking you when you are up. They want you to be down where they are. Don’t go there. Just ignore them.

3. If you can’t ignore your critics, frame your responses strategically.

Sometimes, you won’t be able to ignore your critics – if, for example the criticism is coming from your boss or your family. That’s when you need to stay calm and respond strategically.

In Self-Esteem, Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning recommend a technique they call “clouding.” “Clouding involves a token agreement with a critic. It is used when criticism is neither constructive nor accurate. When you use clouding to deal with criticism, you are saying to the critic, ‘Yes, some of what is on your screen is on my screen.’ But to yourself you add, ‘And some isn’t.’ You ‘cloud’ by agreeing in part, probability, or principle.”

Agreeing in part – finding one part of your critic’s comments to agree with or acknowledge.

The Criticism: You’re not reliable. You forget to pick up the kids, you let the bills pile up until we could lose the roof over our heads, and I can’t ever count on you to be there when I need you.

Your Response: You’re certainly right that I did forget to pick up the kids last week after their swimming lesson.

Agreeing in probability – acknowledging that there’s a possibility your critic could be right. The chances may be a million to one against it, but you can truthfully say, “It’s possible you’re right.”

The Criticism: Starting a business now is a terrible idea. The economy is in the crapper, and you’re just wasting time and money.

Your Response: Yes, it’s possible that my business won’t work out.

Agreeing in principle – acknowledging the logic of your critic’s argument, but not necessarily agreeing with his assumptions. This clouding technique uses the conditional “if/then” format.

The Criticism: You’re really taking a chance by claiming all these deductions you don’t have receipts for. The IRS is cracking down. You’re just asking for an audit. It’s stupid to try to save a few bucks and bring them down on you like a pack of bloodhounds.

Your Response: You’re right. If I take the deductions, I’ll be attracting more attention to myself. And if I get audited, it will be a real hassle.

4. Take helpful criticism seriously.

Helpful criticism is sometimes harsh but it’s always well intended. It’s not hard to identify it. The hard thing is to accept that it is helpful and use it to improve yourself.

In Succeed for Yourself: Unlock Your Potential for Success and Happiness, Richard Denny says, “Constructive criticism is not negative, so be enthusiastic about it. Remember, you are very fortunate if you receive it. Encourage others to offer constructive criticism.”

5. Thank your critics.

I make it a habit to send a personal “thank you” to anyone whose criticism has helped me do better work.

6. Solicit criticism – from people you respect – while there is plenty of time to make changes.

One of the most successful publishers I know does this regularly. When considering the launch of a new product, he sends a memo to a small group of more experienced publishers explaining his concept and asking them to poke holes in it.

By getting their criticism early, he doesn’t feel its sting. After all, it’s not his baby that is being criticized. It’s just an idea. And ideas, as we all know, are not worth anything until they are put into action.

Another benefit – and this is a big one – is that it saves him time and frustration. By getting input on an idea before he’s done a lot of work on it, it is much easier for him to make changes.

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How NEOFECT Created a Smart Glove (Robotic Arm) That Uses Online Gaming for Rehabilitation

Wearable technology keeps evolving. And it is transforming the way we experience the world. Watches, eyeglasses, rings, bracelets and even smart home devices like the thermostat are changing how we consumer information, monitor our health and use home products. Smart technology has a significant role to play in how people will live in the future.

NEOFECT wants to change how to aid rehabilitation and the provision of clinicial real-time patient data. In an interview with  Scott Kim, Neofect’s co-founder and CEO of the US office, he spoke to us about how he started NEOFECT, the company’s success factors and challenges they have faced in their bid to change physical therapy using online gaming.

Brief summary about your startup

Established in 2010, NEOFECT is a mobile health startup with a vision to deliver an affordable and effective at-home system to aid neuro patients with central nervous system disorders such as a stroke.

Its first product, RAPAEL Smart Glove, combines a wearable device, virtual reality and gamification for rehab exercise, while its software analyzes the data from built-in sensors and provides training tasks based on the patient’s activity level.

The device has been successfully employed by a number of major hospitals in South Korea since December of 2014, and approved for use in the US and Europe. NEOFECT has offices in S. Korea, San Francisco, and Poland.

Why and how it was started

The President of NEOFECT, Ho-Young Ban, experienced first-hand the difficulties faced by stroke patients and their families when his father and two uncles fell victims of stroke.

Although his uncles were fortunate to survive, they had to turn down the rehab therapy because of the costs involved. So, when his friend Young Choi came up with an idea of Rapael, Ban could not resist.

Soon after, their classmate from the University of Virginia’s Darden MBA program Scott Kim joined the team to launch the US operations.

Kim was born with spinal bifida and went through a surgery and a long rehabilitation process, so he immediately recognized the opportunity and became a co-founder and the CEO of the Neofect’s US office.

What has been the biggest success factors

Personal motivation of the founders combined with the latest, most advanced smart technologies have become the major engines behind the company’s success.

– Gamification, which motivates a patient throughout the rehab process. It helps to induce neuroplasticity for hand function of a patient with a brain damage.

Various rehab games are updated monthly and each game targets specific movements such as squeezing the orange for finger flexion/extension and pouring wine for forearm pronation/supination, for example.

– Artificial Intelligence: the software analyzes data from the glove’s sensors and provides training tasks based on the patient’s activity level. The algorithm is designed to enhance learning multiple functions by offering an optimal task at a proper level of difficulty.

– Wearable Device: RAPAEL Smart Glove is a wearable bio-feedback training gadget. Lightweight and designed to fit different hand sizes, it uses the Bluetooth technology to collect the patient’s data.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced launching and running the company?

The biggest challenge was the product’s concept itself. Many people believed that Rapael could be a threat to the therapists. Fortunately, after we launched the program in several hospitals, we’ve been able to prove that our device is designed with the doctors’ and patient’s needs in mind and helps them make the rehabilitation process more efficient.

Which do you think is most important: the right market, the right product, or the right team?

This sounds like a cliché, but the right team is easily the answer to me. With the right people, you can make necessary adjustments based on new information to make sure there is a product-market fit.

My previous job was to lead a team to make mobile apps – without any exception, all great apps loved by users were made by great teams.

Final words for those chasing the startup dream

Never underestimate the importance of execution. Many people waste their time just to validate what they think or others think, or even just to finish the conceptualization.

However, you should “fail fast” in order concentrate your efforts on building a product which has a market demand, and of course, to save time and money as well.

Plus, you should fail while you are small rather than big, if you’re meant to face it. The earlier you do the reality check, the faster you can reach your goal, although it might cost you a couple of failures at the beginning.

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