Everyone’s a Critic (and, Appropriately, Should Be)

2013 05 04 Dominies WifeTo one who listens, valid criticism
    is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry.
Proverbs 25:12 (NLT)

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post entitled 10 Ways Being a Theatre Major Prepared Me for Success. The post went viral and has found its way into some very interesting places, for which I’m both surprised and grateful. That post sprang to mind this morning as I read the proverb above.

One of the most important lessons I learned being a theatre major (one, that for some reason, didn’t make my list) was the ability to accept and provide appropriate criticism. My theatre prof taught us to solicit criticism as actors. He once told us, “never blindly accept when a person tells you ‘you did a good job.’ Always ask ‘what exactly did you find good about it?'” If you did something well you need to understand what it was so that you can repeat it. If you missed the mark in some way, you need to know that too. How can we improve unless some one can observe and provide us with appropriate feedback?

Last weekend Wendy and I performed in a one-act play at the Pella Opera House for the local Tulip Time festival. With each show our director provided me with valid and crucial piece of criticism. Before opening night she told me that with one long line in which I explode in anger I had exploded too soon in the previous dress rehearsal and peaked out early in the line rather than building to the explosion. She was right. Before another performance she told me that I’d allowed too much dead air before another actor’s entrance and needed to fill it with a line. She was right. Rather than getting defensive and feeling like her criticism was inherently negative and destructive, I embraced what she was telling me. Her criticism, even in the late stages of production, allowed me to improve my individual performance and the overall quality of the show.

Looking back over the years I realize that seeing and thinking critically has been a crucial part of the successes I’ve experienced along life’s road. Having the character to weigh and accept criticism of others, and learning to provide valid, useful criticism to others is a tremendously important component of growth, maturity and wholeness.

[An index of all Tom’s chapter-a-day posts covering every book and chapter]

2 thoughts on “Everyone’s a Critic (and, Appropriately, Should Be)”

  1. 15 Patience can persuade a prince,
    and soft speech can break bones.

    I’m getting better at patience, but its a choice I have to make every day.

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