This Changes Everything

I keep a quote in my office by Theodore Roosevelt that my dad gave me. It says…

“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 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 and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for 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 he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

I love this quote. It’s a great reminder that you should never let the fear of failure or criticism keep you from moving forward. The quote resonates with leaders because one of the realities of leadership is that, sooner or later, you will be criticized. Chris Buxton taught me another invaluable, wise insight when it comes to criticism. He told me that the first question to ask when you’re criticized should be, “Is there any truth to what the critic is saying?

If you can learn to do this, it changes everything. You can turn your critics into coaches who help you become better at what you do. If your idea or method truly is best, that will only become more obvious the more it’s dissected. If it isn’t best, your critics might help you discover what is best. Besides, shouldn’t we at least entertain the thought that we might be wrong? It’s easy to say but very hard to do.

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