To Hell With The Critics, Long Live Criticism

Do you remember the people who criticise you?

Or you care about just the criticism and take corrective measures if you think you can improve?

It’s a “Who Vs. What” question.


Now think about this: if you remember the people who criticise you, your natural inclination will be to win over their hearts and do the things to please them.

When you do something to “please” someone, your act gets biased. Your such act will make you stressful. Is such an act worth practicing? You know the answer.

But if you listen to just the criticism to understand the critic’s point of view, and if you are convinced, take corrective measures for improvement, the scenario changes.

When it comes to dealing with criticism, ‘What’ matters more than ‘Who.’

Don’t think of critics. Fix the act that caused criticism (or ignore it if you don’t care).

Think of people you love … your friends; your family; your kids; your spouse (if you still love her, or him) …

That’s much better use of the most scarce resource you have – your remaining time in this world.

Some people live their lives thinking that they have unlimited time in this world. That’s not true. Your time is limited. Here’re the 7 most common deathbed regrets. Not worth having for sure.

Do something that gives you happiness. Learn from the criticism but to hell with the critics. You better do it!

Zen Story: Will You Choose to Be My Coach?

A coach saw five of the interns practicing software engineering. When they took a break, the coach asked the interns, “Why do you write code?”

The first intern replied, “Coding is an in-demand, high paying career. I’m glad that I will not have to do the clerical work that some of my school friends are doing in their jobs.”

The coach praised the intern, saying, “You’re a smart engineer. When you will gain more experience, you won’t have to worry about coaching like I do.”

The second intern replied, “I love the constructs, structures and even more important, the business impact that my code would create.”

The coach praised him, “Your senses are active and you see more than many others. Good for your career.”

The third intern replied, “When I write the code, I feel so content that I am creating something useful for the people who would use the app.”

The coach gave praise to the third intern, “Your mind will easily grasp the programming techniques of today and future and make you a competent programmer.”

The fourth intern answered, “As I write the code, I create a systematic something that will make people’s lives better.”

The coach was pleased and said, “You are riding on the golden path which will offer you win-win and favorable situations in your life.”

The fifth intern replied, “I write code to write code.”

The coach went and sat at the feet of the fifth intern and said,  “I am your student. Will you choose to be my coach?”

Learning Techniques Vs. Learning Ownership

Jack puts in a lot of time to learn the techniques.

He’s a technique-biased learner. If you access his Dropbox folder called “To Learn,” you will see notes like this:

  • Top 7 ways to Write an Internal Office Memo That’s Not Boring
  • Top 10 SureFire Techniques to Lose Weight and Gain Muscles
  • What Everyone is Missing When Raising Their First Girl Child (and how not to)
  • Top 50 Tips to Make Money From Pharma Stocks From Day-Trading

Lots of how-tos …

The problem with this approach is that they are good to read but don’t always work as-is.

They need to be contextually modified to suit the specific needs.

Focusing merely on techniques is a great waste because it is not difficult to be good at a subject if we really choose to be.

We can be good at ANY subject if we choose to deal with an uncertain next and failures and frustration and the mess.

The problem is, we don’t want to take ownership to be good at something unless we find out that it is possible to for us to be good at that thing.

We expect others to coach us to be good at something while we do other stuff like updating facebook status, playing mobile games, attending a friend’s sister’s husband’s uncle’s daughter’s neighbour’s birthday party … or doing something else.

We want to be good at something while doing other stuff. Doing other stuff means our attention is divided and we are not 100% committed to be good at something.

What if we create a culture where the focus is on buying and selling ownership.

When we buy ownership, we hold ourselves accountable to produce the results.

When we sell ownership, we have delegated a specific project or a task to a dependable person and that person has owned it.

Such a trade of ownership actually makes people choosing themselves.

A learner who chooses herself is unstoppable.

Sure, it takes some time to get used to the uncomfortable situations that the trade of ownership puts you in but once got, it works as an extremely powerful tool.

Successful cultures practice trading of ownership. Successful individuals too.

What do you want to do?

A Lion in Search of a Circus

When Simba, the Lion, didn’t know that a circus was a possible home for him, his life was different.

He had so much freedom, many opportunities, and so much choice.

He was wired to lead. He was wired to roar. He was wired to kill.

Kill like a Lion.

A Lion in Search of a Circus

Then came circus. And the ringmaster.

Initially, Simba didn’t like the circus but eventually he compromised and surrendered himself.

If he would do exactly as the ringmaster asked him to do, he would get a piece of meat.

If he would refuse to do as the ringmaster asked him to do, he will have to sleep hungry.

If he’d do what the ringmaster wanted even without asking, he would get one more piece of meat.

Following the ringmaster’s orders was a better deal.

So he rewired himself to listen to and follow the ringmaster’s orders.

He was now an integral part of the circus.

His life became easy. Follow the orders and get the food. On some days, he would be allowed to have sex with the lioness who used to stay in a nearby cage.

Simba thought to himself, “Life at circus is not bad at all. I get the food without having to kill anyone and I get to spend some good time with the lioness I developed a crush on.”

As the years passed, Simba thought that the ringmaster was his “true” master and if he would please him, his life would continue to be easy.

Everything worked well for several years, but one day, for some reason, the circus owner decided to close the circus down.

The circus owner was happy with Simba. He thought at this point, rather than selling him to another circus, he would send him back to his real home, into the wild.

And he did it.

That day was difficult for Simba. There was no ringmaster. No shows. No noise of people applauding Simba’s performance. There was no food at his fingertips.

Simba was hungry and he had to arrange for his food on his own.

But he didn’t feel like home. The wild was perhaps too wild for him. He didn’t want to stay there anymore. He needed to be with a circus. Any circus.

He sat under a tree thinking, “It would be great if I find another circus. I want someone to come and take me to the circus again …”

He was the Lion. The King. Yet he needed a place to hold him, a spot where he didn’t have to assume the responsibility.

If he would work with a circus, he’d get food, sex and sense of safety.

Simba was no longer a Lion. His habits were changed. Sure, he looked like a Lion but didn’t remain one. He could roar, but he could not choose.

Why wasn’t he a Lion anymore? Did he forget hunting?


But after living a passive life with the circus and after following orders from the ringmaster, he forgot to choose himself.

Simba hadn’t read James Altucher‘s book – Choose Yourself . Especially the page #4 which goes as below:

“That’s when it clicked. When everything changed. When I realized that nobody else was going to do it for me. If I was going to thrive, to survive, I had to choose myself. In every way.”

~James Altucher, Choose Yourself, pg #4

If you are a Lion, then you hunt. You don’t ridicule yourself by following orders of the ringmasters.

If you are a programmer, then you program. You don’t fool yourself by copy/pasting code from and call yourself a Programmer.

Hunt every day. Program every day. Keep your reflexes sharpened. Read Choose Yourself from James Altucher today and be a real Lion who leads the wild, not just Simba. 

Or go in search of a circus.