“There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”

A client was telling me today about a difficulty she was having with a leader at her company. “He always comes in looking for what’s wrong,” she said, “I hate that.”

“Why?” I asked her.

“I feel like it’s not okay for him to catch what’s wrong. I feel like I have to fix everything he might find before he finds it, so that he doesn’t find something wrong.”

Now, my client and I talked for a while about her tendency to need things to be perfect and to catch mistakes before others do, and of her desire and need to let that tendency go. But apparently Aristotle had something more to share for our conversation, something that would have been at least as helpful.

Because the only true way to avoid criticism is to do nothing that can be criticized. As Aristotle says, to “do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” Because any time we put ourselves out there, we risk criticism. Any time we do, say, or be anything, there is a chance that someone else will not like it.

Which most likely means that the only way to actually move forward is to lose our fear of criticism – or to at least learn how to accept criticism. To perhaps invite it as an opportunity to learn and grow. To perhaps respond with curiosity to our criticizer – to ask for reasons and examples and additional ideas, so that what we do, what we say, and who we are can be better.

Perhaps we can reframe criticism and allow it to support us in our leadership and our leadership growth.

How have you learned from criticism?
Please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For support in losing fear of – and perhaps even inviting – criticism, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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