Crippling Criticism or Constructive Capacitation
According to Dictionary.com, criticism is;
1. the act of passing judgement as to the merits of anything.
2. the act of passing severe judgement; censure; fault-finding.
3. the act or art of analyzing and evaluating or judging the quality of a literary or artistic work, musical performance, art exhibit, dramatic production, etc.
Whenever I hear the word, even though the frontal lobe of my brain understands there is also a positive side to it, I can’t stop myself from thinking it is so negative. So every time I use the word, I tend to prefix it with ‘constructive’. It takes the edge off for me.
Depending on who is giving it and how criticism is given, the feeling it leaves you with can range from catastrophic and crippling to cheerful and confident. Criticism possesses the innate ability to spur you on to do better or to throw in the towel and give up altogether.
As much as I appreciate that, like it says in the third definition of the word above, criticism is necessary for progress, I am loath to receive it for fear of hearing something I don’t like. I would be a lot more forthcoming in seeking it were the feedback guaranteed to be positive but that is wishful thinking really.
I was thinking today that it would be extremely myopic of me to let my aversion to criticism get the better of me. I will not improve my craft by being a coward and shying away from feedback that is not necessarily palatable but needful to make me a better craftsman. It is a necessary evil and with a positive attitude, I can turn it around in my favour. Besides the only way to avoid criticism is to do nothing and I don’t want to do that. I want to do something that counts.
When I get criticised, at first I tend to focus on the critic and how they meant to harm me by saying what they said. I think of how little regard they place on my person or my work to have uttered their opinion so callously and with little consideration for my feelings. However when I do take a moment to actually hear what they are saying, regardless of the delivery, I have to admit, albeit grudgingly, that there may be some truth to their words.
There is a famous saying that goes “what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger”. I know it doesn’t apply in every situation but it certainly does with criticism and how you handle it. It may seem hurtful, spiteful, inconsiderate and rude. The critic may truly not have had any good intentions towards you but all that matters very little. What matters is how we react to it. If we let it, the criticism may cripple us into inactivity or capacitate and enable us to get better at whatever it is we are seeking to accomplish.
Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th US president, captured this sentiment succinctly when he said;
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
You can’t stop doing what you do best simply because someone has a contrary opinion. Turn criticism around into a compliment. Think of the pioneers in your field of expertise and how much criticism they received. Study how they used it as a stepping stone to reaching their goal. If you are doing something worth criticising, chances are you are probably on the right track.
What are your thoughts? Please share.
Thanks for stopping by and tara for now.