My Speckled Rear End

Remember that day in elementary school when you walked out of the bathroom with your skirt stuck in the back of your tights?

Or the day that you wore your pajamas to school and it was not pajama day?

I had one of those moments recently.

After returning to the office from a lunch meeting, one of our staff ladies discreetly asked me “Jenni, what’s on the back of your dress?”  When I turned around, I discovered the back of my navy blue dress was splattered with white spots.   And when I say splattered, I mean s-p-l-a-t-t-e-r-e-d!  I’d been prancing around town sporting a speckled rear end.  Turns out the chair I sat in at lunch had recently been wiped down with bleach water and left enough behind to ruin my dress… and my day.

Bleach.  The agent I love when I’m scouring my house and satisfyingly killing every germ in it’s wake, had now become my great nemesis.  A small amount of it properly diluted kills germs, cleans and sterilizes.  Used in excess it can quickly destroy something good.

And bleach isn’t the only thing that works like that in my life.

My critics are a bit like bleach. In small doses critics can be very helpful and necessary to provide perspective to your leadership.  But in concentrated amounts, critics can eat you alive.

If you are in any type of leadership, you are probably well aware that critics exist.  (They have an uncanny way of finding you.)

I’ve observed that our tendency though is to do one of two things:

1) We either ignore critics altogether and keep ourselves calloused to their remarks, not gleaning anything that could be helpful or important for us to learn, or

2) We absorb every comment we receive from them and agonize over the criticism

Critics can have a functional purpose when we use them correctly, but if they are constantly ingested, constantly given a voice, they will paralyze you.

How can you more carefully handle your critics?

When should you let them in?

When do you need to shut them out?

How can you determine which critics are just poisonous and which ones are necessary for your growth?

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  • Brittany November 4, 2010  

    A professor recently told me (I’m in law school) that you should keep a “down to earth file.” Keep a reminder of praises and reminders of criticism. When you need uplifting get out your “good job” file and when you are a little full of yourself get out the “criticism” file and that a good balance of both will keep you level.

    Pretty good advice – if it’s sound criticism or sound praises to keep a reminder.

    • Jenni Catron November 4, 2010  

      That’s great advice! I might need to implement that!

  • Evie November 4, 2010  

    Haha…. ( : Love what you drew from this pretty funny incident Jen!

    I often have to remind myself not to let the critical voice into the creative process WHILE I’m creating. All it does is stifle creativity and keep me from finishing. After the initial draft is done though, it’s important to invite that healthy critic in, in order to better what I’ve begun. My two cents anyway.

    ( : And you still rocked the dress even though you could see the sharpie trying to cover up the bleach!

  • Natalie Ames November 10, 2010  

    Jenni –

    Found your blog through and am thoroughly enjoying it. So right about our tendencies to throw the baby out with the bathwater or over-internalize. I find myself this morning craving the world’s feedback instead of resting in feedback from my Father.

    Great post for me to read today.

    • Jenni Catron November 10, 2010  

      Hey Natalie! So glad you found my blog. Thank you for reading!