Hilary Clinton was recently quoted on how to handle criticism. She said: “Too many young women I think are harder on themselves than circumstances warrant. They are too often selling themselves short. They too often take criticism personally instead of seriously. You should take criticism seriously because you might learn something, but you can’t let it crush you. You have to be resilient enough to keep moving forward, whatever the personal setbacks and even insults that come your way might be. That takes a sense of humor about yourself and others. Believe me, this is hard-won advice I’m putting forth. It’s not like you wake up and understand this. It’s a process.” There’s much truth in what Ms. Clinton said. I’d encourage you all to read it several times and glean from it what you can.
Leadership invites criticism. Ms. Clinton knows it. All leaders know it. I’ve had my fair share through the years too. I’ve come to believe that it’s a necessary part of life and leadership. It can really hurt you. But it can also really help you.
Therefore, I’ve learned to ask myself some helpful questions when criticism comes my way.
1. Is there any truth to it? This takes a lot of self-awareness and self-examination. But any good, thoughtful leader and person should have both. Look for the meat amidst the bones. Ask a close friend or your spouse if they see these things in your. If so, learn from the criticism! Use it as a growth tool. Resistance always makes us stronger!
2. Am I a people-pleaser? Do I have a people-pleasing addiction? If so, realize any criticism, true or false, will sting more than usual. Remember that people make lousy gods. Deal with this part of your personality. Admit it. Confess to God. Breathe deeply. Then re-ask yourself question #1 when the criticism comes.
3. Is my critic looking at my life through his own dirty windows? In other words, is there any jealousy here? Do I threaten him or her? Have they been hurt by something that makes them want to hurt me? After all, hurt people hurt people! Will their criticism of me advance their own agendas and ambitions? Be empathic, as much as possible. If you see these traits in your critic, don’t take their criticism too seriously.
4. Will the world come to an end if this criticism of me is true? Believe me, it won’t. Take it for what it is: a person’s criticism of you. In the scheme of things, it’s not that important. Put it in perspective. Then move on with life.
Everyone receives criticism. It’s a part of life. As you receive it, try to learn from it. But then throw the bones away, permanently! If you ingest the bones, you’ll most certainly get sick.
And constantly remind yourself: no one has ever built a statue to a critic!
If you like to read the insights from the daily Bible reading in Mark, please click here.