Date: Sunday June 26th, 2016
Failure and sufferance ARE my badges of honor. Together, they have made me who I am. I couldn’t be any prouder they chose me to wield them.
Failure is one of the wisest of teachers. Many have entered his presence enthused and left as broken souls. Only the intrepid have the creativity and determination to pass his tests. Such disciples are scarce in number, so he does embrace us as we reveal ourselves. Under his guidance I have thrived. What is it he teaches? Patience.
Sufferance is a true sage; he has no need for tests. He is cruel. He is merciless. Yet he is masterful. The lionhearted approach him unable to steady their mind. We leave him absolutely fearless. What secret does this sage hold? It is no secret at all, yet it means nothing if not gained from his lessons. He teaches perspective.
It is these lessons that failure and sufferance have implanted in my mind. It is these lessons, among many others, that I wish to share with you and the world. You say I’m scared? You may be right yet I persist. You say my actions do not inspire? I say that’s for the world to decide. You say my life is stagnant? I can do naught else but laugh.
I am not perfect nor do I hope to be. That would be a tedious life indeed. Am I flawed? Of course, for I am human. I defend myself when threatened. I rest when tired. I benefit where I can. I glare at fools. I judge the selfish.
My family and friends love me. In fact, the only thing they had to tolerate was your letter. And we mustn’t forget my jokes! I regret to comment my ego IS planet sized… you got me there. But alas, I stand a human. ^.^ What have I accomplished? I have listened to countless stories and brought smiles to the faces of friends. That will have to do. 🙂
I’ll end this letter by saying that you and those like you are free to think of me as you will. It does not matter if you think me a fool as long as my actions honor God and the people I respect. I’m a real leader because I chose to be and nothing can make me turn my back on people, least of all you.
Anyway, thanks for your letter! I had a blast reading it and still can’t help but chuckle at your “10 foot tree” quip. You have my gratitude for making me smile. 😀
Let’s have a short discussion on criticism. It is defined1 below.
- indicate the faults of (someone or something) in a disapproving way
- the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes
If you read the definitions carefully, you might have noticed that nowhere in either definition does it state a goal. This is extremely important to understand. Criticism has no goal. It does not help someone improve. It is purely negative, simply pointing out why someone is wrong. Criticism offers no solution. It will not help in any situation.
I didn’t learn this distinction until very recently, unfortunately from experience. I used to be so conditioned to criticism that it didn’t bother me, and it wasn’t from the people around me. I am my harshest critic BY FAR. I wrote the letter in the previous entry to myself, and to be honest it’s mild compared to how I used to talk to myself sometimes. It was a little tough because I had to change my voice so it wouldn’t be obvious. The letter didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I think it might have bothered or even offended2 many of you more than it did me.
Truthfully, I really enjoyed writing it. Why? Because I know it’s all bullshit. I have physical proof to counter every single negative in that letter. At this point, I do know how awesome I am. I have suffered to get here. However, I’d say it was completely worth it. It made me strong. There is NOTHING negative anyone could say to me that I haven’t already said to myself, and that I have handled. If I really were to receive a letter like that from someone, it wouldn’t bother me at all because I’ve dealt with much worse from myself.
Lesson: Once you can handle yourself, you can handle any critic.
The point of that letter was not to evoke sympathy from you. It’s to point out that there are many people that have a great deal of negativity in their life, whether by choice or not. I want you to understand that if you do criticize someone or even yourself with the intent “of helping,” your approach is ineffective at best.
Criticism is an inherently negative word. I no longer even use the phrase “constructive criticism”. I don’t believe in it. Let’s replace criticism with a more positive word, feedback.
- information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc., used as a basis for improvement
Much better. Now the intent for improvement is part of the definition. Also notice how there is nothing about faults, mistakes, disapproval, etc. If you want to help someone improve, give them feedback. How can you differentiate between criticism and feedback? Before you say something to “help” someone, think about how you would react to it. Would it put you in a defensive position? If yes, it’s a criticism. Figure it out a different way to say it. Take out the disapproval and make it feedback.
Now this is something I need to work on as well, but I’m aware of the problem and I have been working hard to implement these changes. For example in my letter above, I’m positive that I didn’t criticize the person even once. Feel free to comment if you see otherwise! And if you feel this lesson applies to you, join me in doing the same!
An Act of Kindness
I’ll end with a small act of kindness from yesterday. I was at a business meeting in a hotel from around 9AM until 5PM. During the lunch break, someone went out of his way to take my plate after I was done eating, after he had already gone to put his plate away. It was the strangest thing because I’m not used to that much kindness from strangers. Unlike in entry #11, I did get his name and we had a nice conversation. Positivity really catches up with you in the best ways!
To awkward endings, Pulkit
“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.”
— Dale Carnegie