Mike has never put more than 40% effort into anything in school.He sits in the back of the class. He never listens. He figures out how to sleep with his eyes open, or hide under his desk to take naps.Maybe his dad abandoned him. Maybe his parents never motivated him. Or maybe he's just plain lazy.Who knows the reasons. But the effort isn’t there.Nothing his teachers or parents have ever said or done have been able to turn the fire that burns within him into anything more than a low smolder.He goes through his early years, turning in the minimum grades to squeak by in everything.One day, as he shrugs off another bad grade, the teacher stands up at the front of the class.The teacher points at Mike."Study hard - or you'll end up like Mike there. Dim, lazy, and on the path to flipping burgers for a living."A certifiable asshole comment by a teacher.Mike, typically thick-skinned and nonchalant about life, is pissed.An authority figure publicly branding him in front of the class, the class laughing, and the obvious implication that a good majority of them shared the teacher's view of Mike was too much.He'd had enough.Deep down he knew he was lazy. But he wasn't stupid. And he sure as hell wouldn't be flipping burgers.That day forward Mike starts studying.It hurts his brain at first to think and concentrate so much. It's almost like going to the gym for the first time.He keeps going. Each day he gets better at it. The rust comes off, those sleepy neurons start to light up between his ears.Quickly - he gets into a groove. His grades pick up.They get better. They get better. He learns a couple study tricks he should have known years ago.Cute girls are suddenly asking him for help in school.He realizes school isn't that hard. He realizes what he already knew - he wasn’t dumb.In fact, he realizes, he’s a lot smarter than he thought he was.Suddenly, he's getting the top grades in his class.Mike - was so much more than even he ever thought.He'd been a darkhorse scholar in his class.He is acing test after test. He dethroned the former smart kid who now eyes him with jealousy.And one day - his teacher asks him to stay after class.His teacher comes over, sits on a table across from him.He stares at Mike.He walks over, reaches out and shakes Mike's hand, saying, "Mike - I apologize. You had it in you all along. I never knew”Mike, your quintessential, stereotypical gifted slacker, had announced his arrival.I've found that harsh criticisms can cut deep particularly if there is a grain of truth to them.The knee-jerk reaction is often to punch back, recoil, bury yourself away from it.The next time a criticism cuts deep, step forward and into it.Look within the pain rather than react to it. What does it show you?Are your talents being buried by inaction? By weakness?Look at it.It is right there.Do something about it.If someone shines a light on your demons, don’t flip the light off, expel the demons.If someone mislabels you, sells you short of what you are, what you are capable of, do something about it.Show them the truth.You'll enjoy it.Nothing beats proving people wrong.