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On Criticism

 What to do when someone criticises your efforts? Focus on the voices you know have your best interest in mind… some will be positive encouragers (“You can do it! Keep it up! You are doing great!”) and some will be tough to hear (“We need to talk about your performance. You really messed up, but we can fix this.”)

Don’t listen to those with no honest, personal investment in you. Don’t listen to the selfish, bitter voices of those who regret their lifestyle but haven’t matured to the point of change. 

I read a post from a young artist today whose artwork was callously belittled as “talentless” by someone whom I will simply call “unworthy”. The following came to mind…

Excerpt from a small book that I have yet to finish:

“Dear reader, whether the victim of criticism or the criticiser…I urge you to remember:

It takes no talent (at all) to carelessly criticize what you had no part in.

Millions of people criticize the Super Bowl quarterback for every decision made during the game, but he doesn’t hear them, nor does he care for their opinions. That QB *alone* has journeyed into countless games and practices and suffered injury and fear, rejection and triumph, over-confidence and disappointments far too many to recall. That QB had to uproot a family only to adjust to new teams, new cities and new coaching styles.

When the QB steps out onto that field, the QB knows that cameras will capture every move from all angles while reporters pontificate why those moves are wrong. The QB does this TO learn…TO get better…TO find out the flaws needing improvement, but tries to enjoy the experience. The simple joy of children playing with neighborhood counterparts all dreaming of becoming great players is over. This is work. This is pressure. This is real life.

The team, the town, the family… all the pressure. All the expectation. All the opportunity to fail everyone.

Unless.

After a lifetime of sacrifice… battling the opposition, battling the nay sayers, battling personal thoughts, and yes occasionally battling those on the same side… the QB *may* get the chance to win the biggest game of that sport… *may* get to start the game…*may* take them down the field time and time again… *may* cross the goal line and put another point on the board… *may* outscore the opposition.

Every year in American Football someone does just that.

When the trophy is finally held high in victory… the crowds and reporters of that town as well as the millions of viewers who may or may not have ever attended a game or wore a logo-emblazoned jersey from that team… all shout:

“WE WON! WE WON!!”


I have always been amazed at this idea. More surprisingly by far, to me, is the response from those who actually did the work.

The QB and the team know the journey and the sacrifice, the criticism and the reward, but when interviewed, state humbly: “This is for the fans. We couldn’t have done it without you. Yes, WE (including the criticising public) won. WE won.


Surprisingly, it is not much different for a successful artisan.” 

What do you do when criticised? How has it affected who you’ve become, what you try? Let me know!

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