Criticism = Love

Sunday, October 28, 2007
After you’ve tried your hardest at something, whether it’s writing an article or practicing soccer, do you get offended when your coach, friend, or colleague tells you that what you just did was wrong?

An angry soccer coach may scream, “Don’t kick the ball with your toe!” or “You’re doing it wrong!” The same goes for a writing partner, but the tone would probably be more constructive. “You should use an active voice here,” or “I can’t visualize the character. You need more description.”

The other day I watched Randy Pausch give his final lecture on Oprah. I was watching because I knew Kris Carr would be on there, and you know how much I love her! Her appearance was amazing, btw. And after she left the stage, Randy came on and recited part of his final lecture that he’d given to his students. He said a ‘final lecture’ is something that professors’ give based on the idea of a made-up assumption: pretend you’re going to die and this is the last speech you’ll ever make. But for Randy, it was true. He has cancer and was diagnosed with three months to live. The speech was dedicated to his kids and brought tears to my eyes... The whole thing was touching, inspiring, and heart warming. You can see it embedded below.

One thing that stood out for me was something he said about his little league coach. His coach was old school and would yell at him all practice, You’re doing it wrong, go back, do it again, you owe me pushups, etc. And after practice one of the assistant coaches came up to Randy and said, “You know the coach rode you pretty hard. That’s a good thing. That means he cares.”

Randy went on to say that if you’re doing a bad job and no one points it out to you that means they’ve given up on you. It was something that stuck with him, and it stuck with me too.

Sometimes we’re afraid to point things out or to criticize a co-worker, writing partner, or friend. With our helpful, womanly nature it’s much easier to let things slide—ignore the bad, and roll with the good. But this isn’t being helpful.

Now, sometimes our team and editors tend to “ride each other pretty hard,” as you’ll often see in our blog posts’ comments. We correct each other on terminology, grammar, spelling, and fact checking. This is only because we care about one another and want to bring out the best. This kind of criticism = love.

Here's the video with Randy Pausch -- check it out if you haven't seen it already!


Anonymous said...

Angela, your eloquence and diplomacy are always inspiring. :-)
You see things about human nature with such clarity that it's definitely one of your many special gifts.

When I first started reading this post, of course, I saw myself in your analogy about the little league coach. I could completely relate to how his way of truly caring--or at least his way of expressing it--was often misunderstood.

The whole thing is an interesting character study that can be applied to our writing. If all the characters in a novel behaved or reacted in the same way, if their communication styles were the same, the story would be static and uninteresting.

So, here is a writing prompt for our readers: Write a short story about a character who tries to do and say the right thing, but the situation doesn’t turn out the way she expected. That personality trait can be your character's tragic flaw. It can create subtle conflict between your other characters and add depth to your story.

BTW, if you’re at a loss for what to name your character, you can always call her, Annette. ;-)

Chynna said...

This was a great post, Angela.

At the moment, all I can say about it is: =oD

I've never felt completely "ridden." I've always tried to take criticism with a grain of salt...ya know...because not everyone sees things through the same glasses. But all criticism can be helpful if you look at it the right way. I mean, even the thickest skinned person can take something the wrong way when they're stressed, tired, have alot going on or...have received nothing but negative criticism. But it should always be given as a mix of good and constructive. That's what I've gotten from my WOWpeeps anyhow. =o)

Thanks for this post, guys.


Angela Mackintosh said...

LOL Annette ;-)

It's funny because nobody said anything, but when I watched that part I did think of you and that's exactly what I love about you. I also thought about how people took things that I THOUGHT were constructive and NEEDED to be said, but quickly jumped into defense mode. When that's not how I meant it at all. Most of the time it was voicing my concerns, and pointing things out that probably come off wrong in emails. Sometimes I regret being so straightforward because the real motivation behind it all was love. But when Randy said that, I thought, Wow, it's sooo true. :-)

Did you all watch the video? It made me cry.

I don't watch TV that much, mostly movies, so when I do, no matter what it is that I watch I can relate it back to my life in some way. I think that's the good part of not watching too much. The moments you do watch mean more.

And I love that prompt, Annette! I think I'll have to try that when I'm not going completely bonkers getting the issue out! LOL.

Thanks for you comments ladies :-)



Small Business Tips said...

Some lessons from Randy Pausch’s last lecture that especially moved me:

1. Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things.
2. Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
3. Never lose the child-like wonder.
4. If we do something which is pioneering, we will get arrows in the back. But at the end of the day, a whole lot of people will have a whole lot of fun.
5. Be good at something; it makes you valuable.
6. If you live your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, and the dreams will come to you.

Check out the tribute quiz on the lecture at : you can add your own questions at the end of the quiz.

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