I have been reading an older book by John Maxwell and in a chapter dealing with criticism he used this quote that kind of shocked my system…
Criticism is something you can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. – Aristotle
If you choose to step up and lead (at school, at home, at work, at the gym, as a volunteer, anywhere) you will face criticism. What’s amazing is that we convince ourselves that this time will be different. We believe that if we had another role we would not face the same voices. We even try to lead in ways that will limit criticism and avoid conflict. At some point we have to learn how to survive the critics because in the end it’s only through the uncomfortable experience of hearing different viewpoints that we actually get better! I know it’s not fun to hear but if you choose to make a difference you are going to face criticism. You can survive criticism and how you respond to it will either push you to improve or distract you from your mission. It’s your choice! Here are a few tips when you face your next critic…
- Have the courage to listen. // Ignoring feedback will get you in a world of trouble and it reveals the heart of an insecure leader. Be confident in your calling and identity in Christ. Being a person who will listen to feedback only opens up a door to influence and lead. Sure “they” could be wrong but what if “they” are right and God is trying to push you in a new direction? What if?
- Evaluate the source. // Some people are chronically disgruntle and they will complain if you give them a million dollars. Is the source fighting for the the good of your organization or stirring up strife. I tend to listen more to the criticism of people who are consistently for our organization rather than people who complain “without ceasing.” Never forget that God loves the critic just as much as he loves you but God also calls you to embrace wisdom as you evaluate feedback.
- Evaluate the context. // Not all criticism deserves the same attention. You have to have wisdom in how mush attention and weight you give to every piece of feedback. There are some seasons of transition and times of innovation when people brave enough to give feedback can actually be revealing critical problems.
- Extract and embrace the truth. // With every piece of criticism there is an element of truth that can’t be ignored. With humility, work to extract and embrace the truth that comes through the critic. Fight to get better no matter how much it might hurt!
- Let it go. // Be a big boy or girl and don’t hold grudges. We have to avoid the trap of taking feedback personally and have the courage to let it go and move forward!