My first piece of hate mail arrived last week. And boy, was it fiery.
Here’s how it began: On Monday night, I posted the job description I had created for a developer on Stack Overflow. Business has been booming lately, and if I want to help more people, I need someone to help me with website development. I wrote up what I was looking for and a little bit about myself and my business. Résumés started to come in.
But in the middle of all the cool cover letters and crazy qualified applicants was a message from one developer who clearly hated me. He doesn’t know me at all, but that didn’t stop him from writing a really angry email to me. I won’t repeat anything he said, but I will tell you the gist of it was this: if you don’t have a degree in the field, you’re a fraud.
Now, while this may not be true of some fields (like medical professions, for instance), we live in an age where experience creates experts. In living through something, in experimenting daily, in immersing yourself in a field, you can gain a significant amount of knowledge and know-how that can be shared with the world. Am I the best developer in the world? No. I’m not the most knowledgeable either. But I do know much more than my clients, and I know how to create websites for them that are intuitive and easy for them to use, because I was once where they are.
The hate mail upset me for a moment. How could anyone be so cruel to another person? I found myself going to that place and nearly agreeing with him when I remembered: his reaction says everything about him and nothing about me. Thank you, Second Agreement! (If you haven’t read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, do. The Second Agreement is “Don’t take anything personally” and trust me, it’s a game changer. It pulled me right out the downward spiral the email brought on.)
I can’t speculate what his story is, but with that much negativity, I’ve no doubt it’s been filled with hardship. And so rather than cuss him out or get angry (or even worse, respond), I sent him loving energy and forgave him for his hurtful words.
I choose to live from a place a love, from a place of service to others and holding them to their highest selves. In my business. In my life.
So maybe hate mail means I’ve finally arrived, but more than anything, it’s shown me how far I’ve come. My past self would have wallowed for days in that negativity. My present self can see the situation for what it is.
(Consequently, I totally got some love mail the same day too, from a developer who wrote: “I commend you for having a great perspective on web development and coding in general. I know a lot of developers that would be much happier with that outlook.” Love.)