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Are the Critics Right? Always?

October 15, 2013

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While considering how to succeed as an organization or individual, evaluation has to always be part of the process. Personally, I believe honest self- evaluation will always prove more helpful than ‘self-appreciation’ in the pursuit of success. I could drop in a host of fun quotes here, but I will save the space, and concentrate more on my primary premise for this article.

Today, surveys and questionnaires abound. Every retail outlet it seems has an employee going over the details of their survey on their receipt when you check out. We are on feedback overload. Evaluation is a great tool. However, losing perspective and responding to every critique can be dangerous.

Everyone has an opinion. And in today’s culture, they are more than willing to ‘impose’ it on who ever will listen. It seems we have conditioned our society to ‘correct’ us and ‘criticize’ as often as possible. Why? Because we desire to ‘please’ them. Somehow, somewhere, we made the mistake of thinking we can make everyone happy. This has led to the belief by some that they are anointed by humanity to criticize everything.

One of my favorite quotes comes from actor and comedian Bill Cosby-

“I don’t know the secret to success, but I do know the secret to failure. And that is trying to make everyone happy”

Sound wisdom. Universal happiness is elusive and impractical. The world holds no responsibility to my perpetual happiness. If it did, it would not be raining so much in Florida every afternoon, obstructing tee times and forcing me to invest so much time cutting my grass (you get the idea). But, somewhere along the way, we adopted the idea that we needed to be a reactionary society (or organization). We respond to every negative comment or response. We spend time and energy attempting to fix unbroken things, because someone, somewhere, voiced their dissatisfaction with how things were done. This has produced in some arenas a ridiculous culture of perpetual change….just for the sake of change. Word to the wise, simply making something (or some process) different does not necessarily make it more successful or profitable. If we are not careful, we abandon time honored methods and processes, that have succeeded over long periods of time, to try to make the solo critic happy.

By all means, do not misunderstand me. Some things in life definitely need to change. As Sandy Koufax once said, “You can always pitch better.” But, not every criticism validates a response. They often are cultivated in void of experience and knowledge you possess as a leader or manager.

Reflect on what the critics toss your way. Then make the changes that make you or your organization better. And disregard the critics that just want you to be different. Opinions are just that, opinions. And some of them are wrong.

Have a great day and enjoy the sunshine.

written by James Anderson

James Anderson provides insights and encouragement regarding leadership and management. He presently work with Career Tech in Lakeland, Florida as Internet Recruitment Consultant and is the Instructor for their Employment, Recruiting, and Placement Specialist program. Career Tech is a private vocational school for adults, providing job skills training to assist individuals with launching new careers.

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