Why We Become Socially Insecure
- Monday, August 06, 2007
Pitfall #3: Sensitivity to criticism
"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better." — Ralph Waldo Emerson
No matter how hard you work, how great your ideas, or how wonderful your talent, you will be the object of criticism. Even the perfect motives of Jesus were often misunderstood, resulting in malicious criticism. No one is exempt. And how you respond to criticism will play a major role in your sense of security.
Consider Walt Disney. He was bankrupt when he went around Hollywood with his little "Steamboat Willie" cartoon idea. Can you image Disney trying to sell a talking mouse with a falsetto voice in the days of silent movies? Disney's dreams were big, and he had plenty of critics. People closest to him, however, believe Disney thrived on criticism. He was said to have asked ten people what they thought of a new idea, and if they were unanimous in their rejection of it, he would begin work on it immediately.
A single critical comment, for many, is enough to shut down all sources of creativity. Few among us actually thrive on it like Walt did. But on the other end of the continuum are those whose sensitivity to criticism creates a social stalemate. They stymie all progress for fear of someone saying critical. Sir Isaac Newton is said to have been so sensitive to criticism that he withheld the publication of a paper on optics for fifteen years, until his main critic died.
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Henry Bayard Swope once noted: "I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure: Try to please everybody." The people who are overly sensitive to criticism are trying to do just that.
No wonder they feel socially insecure.
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