If you are a pastor or lead people in any way, criticism is a fact of life. We can learn from our critics or we can turn criticism into carnage.
Here are five ways to do that.
Cut yourself off from everybody who criticizes you. Stay far, far away from them. They are idiots so avoid them at all costs
Believe every criticism. It’s all true, every juicy morsel of it. Believe every word of it. Make it personal. Think about it all the time.
If you follow my blog, you know I love to read. As a life-long learner I learn from others’ writings and I believe integrous writers should always give generous attribution to authors whose ideas they embrace or write about. That’s why I often reference my ideas. Recently I read Do More Great Work by Michael Stanier. It’s a short but good read.
Stanier takes the reader through simple exercises that helps him clarify when he is at his best. In my case, I read the book with an eye to discover when I lead at my best. This is especially important in my life now as I transition from a senior pastor role into a coach/consultant role for pastors and churches.
In one exercise I spent a few minutes choosing words that best describe me when I am at my best. For example, some of those words included poised, reflective, and focused. The next step, however, make this exercise stick. After I picked about 20 words and narrowed them to a dozen or so I then wrote opposite each word another contrasting word that would describe me when I’m not quite myself. I didn’t necessarily choose words opposite in meaning but ones more anemic in contrast to the others. Oppose to the three words above I chose diplomatic, distant, and intense.
When I chose the contrasting words it helped clarify my leadership vibe, that state of leadership toward which I should aim.
Here’s the list that contrasts when I’m at my best (on the left) and when I’m just ok (to the right).
I sat next to a brilliant PhD at a recent men’s breakfast and he made an insightful statement that struck a chord with me.
We chatted about the master’s degree I’m pursuing in neuroleadership and about his shift from chemistry to software development. During that conversation I felt prompted to ask him if he was an introvert. He responded with a quick, “Definitely.” After I suggested he read the book Quiet, the Power of Introverts
he responded with, “Oh yea. I’ve heard about that on NPR. I’ll have to get it.”
As we finished our bacon and pancakes we talking about what it was like being an introvert (we both qualify). Then he made this striking statement.
I think extroverts think introverts should be like them.
I paused a moment and then exclaimed, “Yea, you’re right. They do.” Something inside my subconscious immediately resonated with his statement. We didn’t have long to unpack his thought, but the more I mulled over it the more it made sense.
The idea probably lacks scientific basis and is anecdotal at best, but it seems to ring true. As an introverted pastor, yet with good people skills, occasionally I’ve felt subtle pressure from extroverted leaders to become more extroverted.
But the dynamic goes both ways as well. I admit that I’ve also wished I were more extroverted at times. So, could this corollary be true?