By Michael Aun
At some time in our lives all of us have faced the wrath of critics, some justifiable… and others not so much.
My grandfather and mentor Eli Mack, Sr. used to say to me “Listen to the criticism of others, but do not support them. There is no such thing as constructive criticism. All criticism is destructive. As often than not, the person doing the criticizing is criticizing the performer and not the performance.”
It is impossible to survive in the world without a critic in your life, be it your teacher, your boss, your spouse or even your competition. Critics are people who know the way… but they simply cannot drive.
Positive criticism can be a good friend… if it is not insincere flattery, which often it is. It is one of the big faults I find with Toastmasters. We Toastmasters go to great pains to teach speakers to say “nothing” well. We deal with delivery and not content. That is insincere on its own merits.
Critics are like Monday morning quarterbacks. They remind me of someone who enters the battlefield after the war is over and shoots the wounded. On the other hand, we should not assume that every critic is a hater.
A mentor is someone who loves you enough to tell you what you are doing right as well as what you are doing wrong. They tell you the truth because they love you enough to prevent you from doing something wrong, intentionally or unintentionally.
My late friend Hall of Fame® speaker Zig Ziglar once observed “There has never been a statue erected to honor a critic.” We should take criticism seriously, but not personally.
The fact is if you are never criticized you may not be doing much that makes a difference. Eleanor Roosevelt said “Do what you feel in your heart to be right for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do and damned if you don’t!”
One must accept compliments and criticism in the same vein. For anything to grow, it takes both the sun and the rain. Do not just learn from the rain… welcome it into your life.
In the late seventies and early eighties, I had the privilege of sharing the platform many times with another Hall of Fame® speaker Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, CSP®, CPAE® at what were known as the Positive Thinking Rallies held in huge venues like the Super Dome all over America. Dr. Peale’s favorite saying was “The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”
The fact is most people are better served if criticism is modeled and not simply issued as if it were gospel. Models should not be negative. Find someone who loves you enough to be honest with you… and not just forgiving.
Critics should help us to turn the mirrors on ourselves. The fact is if you have no critics in life, chances are you have not done anything of real value and if you cannot tolerate criticism, then completely avoid doing anything new or interesting.
Do not expect people to respect you. That does not mean you must accept disrespect. Do not get comfortable in letting others disrespect you. That is defined as surrender. Never give in to another.
CPAE® Hall of Fame Speaker Tony Robbins says “Most people fail because they major in minor things. We all get what we tolerate, so stop tolerating excuses within yourself, limiting beliefs of the past or half-assed or fearless states.”
Perhaps the singular best quote of all time that I have come across is “Don’t marry someone you can live with; marry the person you cannot live without.” When I am asked by others what I see most profoundly in my mate is I simply cannot live without my bride of some 45 years. That is as unconditional as the love of an infant for its mother.
Michael Aun Hall of Fame Speaker CSP®, CPAE ® is the author of “X-Raying the Prospect… Understanding 28 Personality Patterns of Your Customers”