With each of us having access to a digital megaphone, we’ve grown accustomed to offering feedback on nearly everything. I’ve experienced this in my own life, being the recipient of criticism from how I should parent my children and how I should do more with the PTO, to what career choices I should make and what’s wrong with my professional wardrobe.
We love to criticize.
Don’t believe me?
Listen to the group of fans watching a college football game. Listen to yourself when you talk about what you like or don’t like about your son’s school, or teacher. Listen to your supervisor as he talks about what he would do if he were running the company. Read the reviews on amazon for crying out loud.
It’s safe to say, it’s a habit. But why?
Because it’s easier to criticize than it is to create.
To be the creator is to invite “desirable difficulty” into our lives. Anytime you start something new, or difficult, or dangerous, you might fail. And people don’t want to be held responsible for your failure.
They don’t want to give you advice that leads you down the wrong path, or ends up blowing up in your face – because then it’s their fault, or so they think.
So instead, they tell you everything that’s wrong with your idea. They find a way to poke holes from every angle – they might even delight in predicting your demise. But if you’ve done your homework, and you persevere, this is simply fuel for the fire.
A true creator embraces opposition and discovers the elements of truth in the feedback, disregarding the rest, saving it for the made for TV movie that documents the perilous journey.
Ideas are a dime a dozen. The action is the hard part.
Acting on the idea, well, that’s rare. Critics don’t have the guts to actually take their advice and build a better mousetrap. Ideas are only as successful as their implementation, and if you need proof, Google the history of the Xerox machine.
Critics love to pick things apart. But they do so from a safety net, outside the arena, where there’s little opportunity for failure coupled with a near zero potential for greatness.
As a marketer, I readily embrace feedback, but only to a certain extent. And based on my experience with critics in event marketing and nonprofit management, those with the biggest mouths are usually the first to decline the opportunity to get involved and make it better.
Is that ironic?
Nope. Better solutions take work and critics talk while creators work.
So, as you think about the type of impact you’d like to have on this world, I challenge you to stop being a critic, and start being a creator
It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
You have no right to talk if you haven’t been in the arena.
And to light the fire under your feet, I want to remind you of these powerful words from Theodore Roosevelt, because it’s not the critic who counts, it’s the man in the arena (the creator).
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
— Theodore Roosevelt
Are you a critic or a creator? I hope you’ll choose to create.