We all have critics. The world is full of critics. Some of them are well-meaning critics like your mother helping you choose a direction in life. She wants you to avoid some of the trials and troubles that she experienced in her life. Other critics are not well-meaning, like the co-worker who shoots down everything you do or say at work because he feels threatened by your ideas. Some critics are malicious by design. This critic is the boss who belittles you constantly to make sure you don’t do something better with you life like quit working for him and start working for yourself.
No matter what the situation, what if they are wrong? What if their well-meaning words are to justify their position and not in your best interests? If people always listened to their critics, we would likely not have airplanes, radio, or computers today, just to name a few accomplishments that faced enormous criticism.
In my experience, well-meaning advice and constructive criticism typically come from friends and family. These are people who may seem to be trying to help, but in many ways don’t. Just like you, they have fears too. Since we all view the world through the colored lens of our experiences, they think that you have the same fears that they do, or else you would not be friends. Since they think you have the same fears, they offer the same solutions that they do. Perhaps they watch the jobless picture that some news channels paint and suggest you hold on to a dead-end job when you should be evaluating your options.
Another critic may happen at the workplace. The co-worker who is competing with you for additional work, a raise, or some other special consideration at work criticizes you misleadingly. Or trying to hide their inadequacies by making sure that you don’t get noticed. We’ve all experienced this form of criticism and sometimes we’ve listened to it. This example is some of the most limiting criticism out there. Not only is it false, but it is limiting you from your true potential by design. If you take this bad advice into consideration, think about what the other person has to gain by sharing this criticism with you. Sometimes, it’s a need to be right. Sometimes, it is competitive in nature.
Then there is the worst type of criticism. A great example was when I was working in a corporate (but well-paying, as restaurants go) restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. The managers there were some of the most malicious managers I have ever encountered. The scheduling manager knew I had some other projects like writing, web design, and what you see here on this site. My projects were taking away from time I should be devoting to the restaurant, but not go into overtime, in his eyes. He was constantly changing my schedule and placing new demands on my time to keep me “in my place.” I decided to move to Atlanta to meet my new mentor in business. He came up to me one day and said that we needed to talk about my schedule in a slight fury. I said I that I was moving to Atlanta that week. He said “Damn!” and stormed off as he realized that another employee was slipping from his grasp. This type of critics is all around us. These can also be friends who see your achievements as a psychological threat to their inadequacies. They can also be people who want to control you to make sure that you are “manageable.” Do yourself a favor. Get away and stay away from these critics.
What if these critics are wrong? What if you keep listening to them? You don’t grow. You don’t change for the better. You don’t improve. Question your critics. Find out if they know something that you don’t or have some experience that you should be learning. Ask your critics questions and then decide for yourself if what they prescribe is best for you.