Creativity & Constructive Criticism: On The Importance of ‘No’ Men In Your Career

Do you have a group of friends or a collective that agrees with everything that you say, do, or create? Do you find yourself getting defensive with people outside of your circle because they disagree with you over something that you’re doing in your career? If so, there may be a problem: you have too many “yes” men in your crew.

The solution to that is simple: include a “no” man (or 2-3) in your group.

I know what you’re thinking. You want people to believe in you and in what you create. You want someone to believe in your vision, to support you on your journey, and to be there during your glo’ up because sometimes it gets lonely and you want to put on for the people who are with you. I get that. But, sometimes, those people limit you in your path to success. Here’s three reasons why you need a “no” man (or men) in your crew:

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Photo of Drake and Joe Budden accessed via Marisa Mendez, co-host of Joe Budden’s podcast I’ll Name This Podcast Later. Check out her website here.

You want people around you that will give you constructive criticism.

We’ve heard great music from artists and we’ve heard lackluster music from artists. What hurts the most is when great artists come out with lackluster music. Let’s use Drake as an example. I haven’t heard Views yet (because I haven’t been moved to listen yet), but I’ve heard reviews that I’m not surprised by: Views isn’t as great as people wanted it to be. We heard fellow rapper (and Drake fan) Joe Budden give constructive criticism, which I think was very valid, to Drake about Views on one of his recent I’ll Name This Podcast Later episodes. It’s unfortunate that people have looked at it as jealousy or hatred, but the points were valid. I mean…he said he could do better. That’s constructive, not destructive, criticism…and it was needed, which leads to the next point:

You want people in your circle that will be honest with you.

If you ask someone what they think of your music, you don’t want them to lie to you about how great you’re doing. If you’re doing bad (or could do better, like Budden said about Drake), your crew should let you know. But, some people will lie to you about you being great so they can be around you when and while you’re successful. Be cautious of those types.

You want people around you that will elevate you as a creative…and even as a person.

Now, when I say a “no” man, I’m not saying that every answer that that person gives is “no” just to say “no.” This person should challenge your thinking and encourage you to be confident in whatever decisions you make by providing you with options instead of a limited outlook. This person (or these people) should help you make better decisions about the music you make, and even in the way you make things happen in your career.

Having a “no” man will be very trying at times, but it will work out if you allow yourself to be open to that person’s opinions. Approach every criticism with an open mind and a search for understanding, because everyone who says something less than favorable about your work isn’t against you. A lot of times, they see your greatness and know that you are capable of much more.

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