In my previous post, I shared thoughts about handling professional criticism. In the days and weeks following, I began to think about what it means to offer “constructive” criticism. The more I reflect, the more I realize I’m not always very good at it. That being the case, take anything I have to say here with a heavy grain of salt.
Criticism is an unavoidable part of life. We all face it in one form or another. Your kids don’t like the meal you’ve prepared. Your doctor thinks you need more exercise. Your employer isn’t impressed with your proposal for the next big project. Dealing with this feedback is an essential skill both personally and professionally. For the purposes of this post, I want to look at how to deal with criticism in professional settings. I’ll leave the personal issues to someone more educated than me.
On my way home from a recent business trip, I was frustrated, angry, and tired. After nearly eight hours of flight delays, I was told the last plane out of Chicago O’Hare was cancelled. Since this came after two solid days of major weather-related travel delays, all surrounding hotels were booked. Renting a car wasn’t even an option at that point. Whether I liked it or not, I was stranded at the airport overnight with thousands of others.
I recently stumbled across a study published in 2012 that reports roughly half of Americans do not describe themselves as creative. Why is this? How has being creative turned into a binary label that we apply to ourselves or others?
I believe everyone has an innate ability to create. We need to change the way we think about creativity if we’re ever going to improve the way we view ourselves in relation to it. All you need is an idea and the courage to let that idea happen. Creativity is the result of acting on those ideas, not simply something that you are. It can be easy to minimize the painstaking efforts required to make something meaningful. It can take years of plying a craft before achieving remarkable results.
I grew up on Dr. Seuss books. His wonderful cadence and charm inspired me towards a love of reading at an early age. Included in his whimsical rhymes are timeless bits of wisdom that have stuck with me over the years.
Now that I have two toddler children of my own, I find I’m interpreting these bits of wisdom in new ways. During a recent bedtime reading of Green Eggs and Ham, I found it could very well be used as an allegory for selling creative ideas.