Is it laziness or could I totally not resist using one of these jibjab videos for Saint Patrick's Day? In all honesty? Probably a little of both! (If you hit play, turn down the volume.)
I didn't do a photo this week because this just cracked me up! Hope you liked it too! Regular photos will be back next week!
So you guys...do you ever hear really skilled people talk about their profession/trade/expertise and they say something like, "Oh, I learned so much from so and so. Or such and such"?
I've come to realize lately that when people say that, a lot of times it's because they've learned, via another person, to correct their own mistakes. AKA...they received some constructive criticism and it made them a better writer/painter/musician/accountant/marketer/winemaker/etc.
So here's what happened to me last week. I was taking a fifteen minute walk while the kids were in art class. The skies were sunny, and it was SO nice that as I got back to my starting point, I was smiling like a lunatic. Really, I was feeling G-R-E-A-T (all caps great, seriously).
And I'm all smiles when I hear a little *ding* go off on my phone. And I look down and see that I've received an email from my editor. And as I stood there reading it, I died on the spot.
Ok, clearly I didn't die or I wouldn't be writing right now but I did feel like I was going to die...the way you get that sick and nauseous feeling in your stomach when you've made a mistake or someone calls you out on something you've done wrong, or incorrectly, or even just not quite perfectly.
What I had received was a little bit of constructive criticism regarding an article I had turned in the day before.
See why I thought I would die?
My editor—and I adore this woman, by the way—asked me, very nicely, if I could change the style of certain parts of my article to better represent our demographic. It was really, truly, no big deal.
And yet I couldn't shake the feeling of panic that kicked in...that feeling that I was just doing it all wrong.
Please, please tell me you guys get like that too! Right?!
The thing is...my editor was right. And as soon as I calmed down and looked at my work and re-read her email I was like, "Oh! Oh, yes! This would make it soooo much better."
And I think that's a big part of the struggle when we're trying to get anywhere good in life, when we're trying to get better at something...it can be so unbelievably difficult to hear criticism, even when it's well positioned and well intentioned. It can even, if you let it, stop you in your tracks.
I've been there before. Tentatively stepping out into something new, only to hear some criticism and pull back, all the way, deciding maybe it's just not worth it.
It's a lot safer just staying where you are. Not venturing forth. Not trying something new. You definitely don't hear much criticism when you don't chance failure.
Whenever I start thinking that things might not be worth the risk, I think of this quote by John Augustus Shedd, "A ship in harbor is safe. But that's not what ships are for."
It's not what we're for either.
And so I'm taking this criticism, and all good criticism—and I think it's important to know the difference between criticism that is constructive versus criticism that serves only to bring you down—and using it to help me in the best way possible...to help me grow.
How about you? Do you use criticism to help you get better at something, or do you try to avoid it? (And I'm asking this as someone who does a bit of both).
And if you're someone who already gets that it can be incredibly helpful to have useful criticism, is that something that you've always understood, or is it something that you've learned how to accept over time?
If anyone has any tips on developing that all important 'thick skin', let us have 'em!
Danielle Davies (@daniellendavies) is the creator of the internet sensation, My Life with Bradley Cooper, as well as a writer and artist living in New Jersey. Read more...
SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER
Every week, you'll get something delivered to your inbox. I can't promise exactly what it will be, but is should be interesting.