Over a Beer: The Most Effective Way to Silence the Haters

Getting paid to ride mountain bikes in Moab. Photo: Aaron Chamberlain
Getting paid to ride mountain bikes in Moab. Photo: Aaron Chamberlain

Editor’s Note: “Over a Beer” is a regular column written by Greg Heil. While Greg is the Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com, any opinions expressed in this column are his alone and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Singletracks.com.

I remember the first time it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I could make a full-time living by writing about mountain bikes. The inspiration came from a comment I received within the first three months of launching my first-ever mountain biking blog, GregRidesTrails.com. It went something like this:

“This article is horrible! It’s poorly written and not informative at all. There’s no way you’ll ever make a full time living as a mountain bike journalist!”

The thing is, I hadn’t even considered turning what I then called “blogging” into a full-time occupation. Rather, the impetus behind Greg Rides Trails was simple. I thought that maybe, down the road somewhere, I would like to become a real writer (but in a more classical sense–editing books, working at a newspaper, something of the like). I figured that I’d actually need to practice writing if I ever wanted to get good at it, so I started a blog to practice the craft of writing using a topic I was already passionate about: mountain biking. And Greg Rides Trails was born.

Fast forward 7 years to today, and I’m quickly approaching 4 years of full-time writing about mountain biking. What started as a comment from a hater has become a fulfilling career.

There’s no shortage of people standing on the sidelines just waiting to jeer at you and put you down. If you look hard enough and spend enough time listening to the peanut gallery, you can always find someone presenting a reason why you should not do something, why you should stop in your tracks, why you are ill-fitted for whatever passion you’re pursuing. The question is, do you give those people the time of day?

How do you deal with criticism? Do you let it stop you in your tracks, destroying your drive and forward momentum? Do you ignore it and block it out entirely? Or do you learn from it and allow it to push you forward?

I’m not even saying that the third option is always the right option. Sometimes–heck, most of the time–blocking out the negativity and preventing it from ever reaching you is the best choice. But sometimes you can’t prevent it.

Anytime a person stands up and says, “I’m going to do something hard. I don’t know if I’ll succeed at it–I could fall flat on my face. But I’m going to try anyway,” the cynics come out of the woodwork.

“You can’t complete a hundred-mile race–you’ve never even ridden 50 miles!”

“You’re too old to mountain bike–that sport is dangerous!”

“You’ll never be able to move to Colorado and live your dream–it’s too expensive. There are no real jobs in a mountain town.”

“You can’t go pro–you don’t fit the stereotype.”

“You can’t make a living talking about mountain bikes on Youtube–it’s never been done before!”

As you think about stepping outside of your comfort zone, just remember: even if the haters aren’t screaming at you from the sidelines, your brain can be your own worst enemy, generating more than enough reasons to not try something risky. It’s called the resistance. The question you have to ask is: what are the reasons why you WANT to do something new? And which reasons are more important: those for, or those against?

So get out there and make your dreams come true, and remember: the most effective way to silence the haters is to succeed despite the resistance.