The Lonely Road of Criticism

Ink on orange handmade paper – words: Abraham Lincoln

I was reading a book review and thought the critic was rather harsh. As I read more I wondered how many times that critic had published their own book instead of simply commenting on the work of others? It is easy to criticize and find flaws in the efforts of others. It is easy to verbalize the holes and gaps, highlight the bad while failing to emphasize the good, the potential, the reasons why the work will succeed. We have given critics a strange power in our world. They comment, condemn and profile the work of others without any skin in the game.

I think Abraham Lincoln is right on target with these words. If you have the heart to help make it better, then and only then do you have the right to criticize. If we utilized that measuring stick for all criticism our world would be a better place. Business meetings would be more positive, friendly conversations would be uplifting instead of petty, and our minds would go to a place to help and support versus ripping things down and tearing them apart. There is enough harshness and cruelty out there that our words and deeds do not need to add more.

When we train our thoughts and tongues to speak words of assistance with an eye to make it better, people would welcome our input at every turn. The fear of presenting, pitching or even suggesting a new way of doing things would not be so terrifying! This would also mean that we would eventually train our minds to think positive, improving thoughts instead of dragging our selves and others through the mud. Let’s face it, we are our own worst critics. Before we even open our mouth we can tear ourselves down, using only the space between our ears, to the point of thinking why even get started. It is how we think and what we say that sends us down a trail of darkness before anyone else has the chance to give us any sort of input.

Next time someone presents a new idea, a piece of their work, or asks you for a suggestion, think twice. Is what you are about to say coming from a place of help and hope? Or are your motives less kind than that? We have the power to make the world a better place simply in how we approach commenting on the work of others. We get what we give, so let’s intentionally give help before we start down the lonely road of criticism.

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