It’s never fun to be criticized, and I think all of us have gone through our fair share of criticisms. The important thing, however, is how we respond to criticism. Before I go any further, let me just share with you two stories.
Story 1: The Fish Market
The owner of a fish market was very proud of his new sign, which said: “Fresh Fish for Sale Here.”
Then along came a passerby and asked, “Why do you have the word ‘fresh’ on the sign? You wouldn’t sell any other kind, would you?”
So he painted out the word and the sign now read: “Fish for Sale Here.”
Another critic said, “Why do you say ‘here’? That’s understood, isn’t it?”
So, off came the word, and the sign now read: “Fish for Sale.”
Then a third objected, “Why use the words ‘for Sale’? You wouldn’t have fish here if they were not for sale.”
So now the only word left on the sign was, “Fish.” “Surely, no one can find fault with that,” thought the storekeeper.
But then, another dissenter appeared, “I see no sense in putting up that sign ‘Fish’,” he said. “You can smell them a block away.”
So that’s why the fish market has no sign!
Story 2: Barking at the Moon
A judge who was holding court in a certain town was always sure of being annoyed by some cutting remarks by a local lawyer. After one such occasion, someone asked the judge at dinner why he didn’t tell off that nasty lawyer.
The judge dropped his knife and fork to the table, placed his chin in his hands and elbows on the table, as he stressed the following story: “Up in our town, there lives a widow with a dog that barks and barks all night whenever the moon shines.”
That is all the judge said, and he picked up his knife and fork, and began to eat again. Then one of the people at the table said, “Judge, you didn’t finish your story about that dog and the moon.”
“Oh,” said the judge, “despite all the noise from the dog, the moon kept right on shining.”
How do YOU respond to criticism? Abraham Lincoln once said, “If we stop at every dog that barks at us, we will never reach the peak.” And that’s true. If we stop trying every time someone criticizes us, we would never reach our goals.
Not all criticisms are bad, however. I do believe that there are criticisms meant to help us. When we get criticized, I think the first thing to do is to step back and ask ourselves, “Is there any truth to this?” If there is, and you don’t like it either, then change. If there isn’t, and you don’t find anything wrong, then ignore the barking dogs and move on. Some people are afraid to be great because when we let our light shine, criticisms from envious people will be sure to follow. But so what? Does their opinion REALLY matter?