WE ALL LOVE TO DO IT. It’s human nature. We love to play judge and jury to others’ faults.
“Did you see her outfit? She must have one of those false-reflecting mirrors.”
“It’s great that she’s doing videos, but I wouldn’t have picked that subject. Who does she think she is?”
“She’s always promoting her business. Like we want to see that all the time!”
Not only is judgment and criticism of others human nature, in our society, it’s cultivated. Girls are taught from an early age to compete with one another. Two best friends are better than butter, but three quickly sours.
For all the “women empowerment” memes and luncheons, women still tend to rip and tear at each other in the most vicious ways. Alas, it’s so automatic, we often don’t even realize we are doing it. Or, if we do, we think it is harmless as long as the person we are criticizing doesn’t hear (think: gossip). What we don’t realize is that we still are harming women because we are harming ourselves when we criticize others. Stick with me here as I explain.
There’s an expression I learned a long time ago that still sticks with me today: “The problem with a man who lies and cheats is not that he cannot be trusted, but that he cannot trust.”
It is the same with criticism. “The problem with a woman who judges and critiques others is not that she cannot be trusted, but that she cannot trust.”
You see, every time we undermine another person with our cutting words or even our negative thoughts about them, what we really are doing is slicing ourselves up at little and undermining our ability to trust our own judgment. How? Because we are creating a world—since we create our own reality—in which everyone is judging us and criticizing everything we do at all times. They must be, because we are judging them.
Pretty soon, we are trapped in a fear prison, constructed of our negative thoughts and stories about what other people will say if we do this or that, and it keeps us stuck, uneasy, and untrusting.
“I have to wear this (or that) otherwise people will think I don’t belong.”
“I can’t create this video because I don’t 1) look the part, 2) sound the part, 3) act the part and other people with make fun of me.”
“If I post about my business more than once a day on social media, or post pictures of me, people will think I am vain, or narcissistic or self-promoting, and they won’t like me.”
Yuck! Who wants to live like that?
So, are you ready for a prison break?
If so, I suggest we try shifting our mindset from that of a Critic to that of a Creator. You see, no matter what your profession in life, you are a Creator. You are the creator of your own reality. If you are a business owner, you are the creator of your business. You create the kind of day you want to experience. You create the type of career you desire. You create the company you want to run. You create strategies, plans, and tactics. You create solutions. If you are a Critic, you criticize what has been created, either by others or, worse, by you.
Here are some differences between how Creators and Critics think:
- Creators focus on their own goals while Critics focus on perceived competitors. Creators make plans, set goals and then get laser-focused on achieving them. Like a champion race horse, they slap those blinders on and run their own races. They don’t worry about what other people are doing. And if for a second they see a “competitor” pop into their view, instead of stopping and worrying about what that person is doing, they intensify their focus on their own goals. Spurred on by the competition, they create more. Critics on the other hand, worry about competitors. They feel jealous and think there are “too many” people who do what they do. They get confused about how to differentiate themselves because what everyone else is doing looks so much better than what they are doing. So, to make themselves feel better, they start tearing down others. The issue, of course, is the competitors don’t care. And if they (the competitors) are Creators, they will just create more and stay focused on their own race, leaving the Critic pouting in their dust. Meanwhile, the Critic, instead of hurting the other guy or gal, has cut him or herself to shreds from the inside out.
- Creators innovate while Critics pick apart others’ work. Creators stay in a near-constant state of creation. Even when they are not actually “working,” their minds are working, filled with ideas they can’t implement fast enough. The only way they can do this is by cutting out all the negative noises and staying focused on what they want to create. There is no room both for creativity and fear in the same space. The more they create, the more innovative they become. Soon, they have no competition, not because they are the “best,” but because they are the “only.” Critics, however, focus on the creations of others. They wish they had thought of this or that, but since they didn’t they will lend their critiquing services—requested or not (most often, not). When Critics finally do need to create (because they can put it off no longer), they struggle because they have put themselves in a hyper-fear state that others will do to them what they do: criticize everything they create and publish. This often keeps them from taking action, which leads to number 3…
- Creators perceive failure as part of the growth process while Critics blame others for lack of, well, everything. Creators know that the more you create, the more you will fail. Failure is just a natural part of the creative process. It’s why photographers take hundreds of pictures in one shoot and then winnow down the winners to about five or six. Master photographers over-create, and then pick and choose to showcase only their best work. Successful marketers create numerous campaigns, and we test them. Some fail. In fact, many fail. Ah, but the winners. They become known as “controls,” and the goal of every marketer after is to try and beat the winning “control.” Failure, you see, helps us grow and improve. Every truly successful business person I’ve ever met has had a sorry tale (at least one, if not more) of mistakes, mishaps and, even, misanthropy. But, ultimately, we take responsibility for our failures as well as our successes. We stop short of internalizing any of it, and we do not let it stop us from continuing to create. Critics, however, play the blame game. They take everything personally, and their failure is always someone else’s fault. They blame their lack of success, their lack of money, their lack of time, their lack of fortitude—just their lack, in general, on others. It was the program that failed them, or the plan, or their parents/spouse/friends, or the weather. If only everyone else had done something better, or right to begin with…
Ultimately, you get to choose whether you want to be a Creator or a Critic. Can you be a Critic and still create? You can. However, it’s hard to fight an enemy with camps in your head. Remember, the next time you feel the urge to criticize others, you might really be doing a number on yourself. Instead, make a different choice. Let another’s success inspire you to creativity.