Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Arena

In France on April 23, 1910 Theodore Roosevelt gave “The Man in the Arena” speech.  Here is a portion of that speech.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.

We can all be a critic.  But Teddy nailed it didn’t he?  It is not the critic who counts.  Those of us who are critical and judgmental just don’t count.  The one who counts is the one in the Arena.  The one who is Doing something.
Years ago I had several pieces at an art show.  I was standing back away from my art booth and watched a man point to my Penny’s from Heaven Painting and said “Hell, I could do that” as he laughed.  So I walked up behind him and said “I would love to see you try!  I have some extra supplies here.  Let’s see what you can do.”  He started using ugly words and walked away.  Why?  Because I challenged him to do something.  It is not the critic that counts but the women who is actually in the arena painting out her heart and soul.

How about you?  Have you written, painted, or built something that you are afraid to share?  Afraid of what others might say?  Afraid of being criticized? Criticism kills creativity because we are vulnerable to what people think of our creative process. 

So, what can you do?  Give yourself credit!  Credit that you stepped into the Creative Arena.  Yes, you might fumble and stumble but give yourself credit for getting up and standing in that arena.  I promise giving yourself credit will make you feel strong and the critic (including the inner critic) will shut the hell up.

AND the next time you feel the need to criticize someone ask yourself this question “who is in the arena?

Monday, March 17, 2014

The One Student

I have been training activity professionals for over 20 years in holistic activity programming.  I have online classes in aromatherapy, art and music.  I also have traveled across the country offering workshops, classes and keynotes.  I love offering programs to activity professionals.  As any good trainer/teacher knows evaluations are important.  They are a useful tool in what worked and what could have been better.  For those of us who are perfectionists (I am in recovery) they can also be devastating.  Why?  Because we put our heart and soul into something and we get one unkind evaluation.  Did you notice the word one?  Yes, you can have one hundred students and ninety-nine of those students loved your workshop and then there is the one student to point out a flaw.  I am not the only one that will pause and focus on the one student.  My colleagues tell me they do the same.  And at the end of the day it makes us just as annoying as the one student.  Let me explain.

If I have done my best then that is all I can do.  So why focus on the one student?  Because they called attention to a flaw…my flaw.  Yesterday I had a student get rather pissy on her evaluation because I misspelled a word.  She was the one student.  Now, at the beginning of each class I tell students that I am not perfect and that my classes will contain errors and I am ok with that.  BUT some people are drawn to the negative.  They are the ones always looking for what is wrong instead of what is right.  AND as the teacher/trainer I too am guilty of this because I went straight to the evaluation that was negative instead of focusing on all the wonderful things the other ninety-nine students said.  The difference is that I did stop myself and say “It’s ok Kimba.  You have dyslexia and you do an amazing job at putting words together and the people you hire to proof make mistakes too”.  And with that I started reading the other ninety-nine evaluations.  

So, if you are teacher/trainer focus on what is going right and how you can be better at your job.  For those of you who complete evaluations think of what could really be helpful to the person you are evaluating.  And last, those of you who like to tear people down because you can hide behind an anonymous evaluation….we know who you are and we are not going to give you a second thought.