the (un)easiest acquisition.

praise is an easy acquisition, anyone that considers you a friend or you consider them a friend would instantaneously extend a kind word upon request. compliments seem to waterfall from most parents (hopefully) at random occasions and most of the time you don’t even have to ask for their approval, they simply profess it without a proposition.

the challenge in life is not to acquire praise but seeking criticism; Wilma askinas said “A friend is someone who sees through you and still enjoys the view.”
other people already know the dark/negative sides of us even when we ourselves cannot see it. it takes a real man or women to ask our true friends “what are some areas of my life you see i need to work on? what are some of my character flaws and how do you think i can improve them?”

by knowing the answers to these questions and NOT TAKING OFFENCE TO THE ANSWERS YOU RECIEVE, digesting them, and working on those areas in our life to improve ourselves we are not only working on/out our shortcomings but improving ourselves and the lives of the people around us.

'honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger'. Franklin Jones
mr. jones was saying that criticism is going to be hard to take from anyone; and it will be. most friends are going to be VERY hesitant about giving you the truth until they see why you want it and trust you that you are not going to be defensive and begin to point out their flaws. unwanted criticism about personalities and character is the poison in the vein of a healthy friendship. never point out someone’s flaws just because you assume they want to change as well. if you do ask your friends the heart wrenching questions above you will see that one has to arrive in a particular mental state, prepared for the number of discouraging answers one might receive, before you even initially ask. let them see the improvement in your life by applying the solutions to their answers and they will want to ask you the same questions down the road.

why not improve? why not question our family and friends with these questions? why live in a constant state of denial the rest of our lives? realize that the only person you are deceiving is yourself, everyone around you knows your shortcomings! what holds us back is not a lack of time, deep friendship, or honesty… it is merely PRIDE. it is the deception of self-righteousness that is the ugliest cause of the constant lack of improvement in our character and lives.

Kill Pride. Improve.


Alexithymia said…
Wow I enjoyed this entry Stephen.
Taking criticism and ridding oneself of pride is hard, but indeed helpful in improving one's character.

"No one ever choked to death swallowing his pride".
Anonymous said…
It's remarkable how difficult it can be to try and accept the fact that we, as humans, are not perfect... that we have flaws and imperfections. What's ironic is that by not acknowleding and accepting these flaws there is no way for us to improve; therefore, keeping ourselves even further away from our desired "perfection".
...such a fascinating concept...
David Malcolm said…
I dono, as the first openly gay student at my school, and subsequently entering pastoral ministry, I've had to learn to cherish the friends who could be aware of my character flaws but didn't always feel a need to mention them.
Anonymous said…
To me, this brings up another question...Is ignorance bliss? We could simply ignore the fact that we have problems...though i am aware of this concept, and as a result can not produce a state of mental denial...but at what cost could we live our lives without caring if we have flaws or not? We could still have friends...though the relationships wouldn't be near as deep.
Still i absolutely love the concept that true friendship is not simply praising, but also construcively critisicing...
Chris said…
I like this concept of asking for (constructive)criticism to elicit change in one's life. What about one who has a critical spirit? Isn't that also a form of pride to see another's weakness and/or shortcomings and make them aware of it. I guess it's all in the delivery and if we were asked to point them out in the first place. This is definately a character flaw of mine that I would like to eliminate. It most often surfaces more with those i'm in close relationship with (spouse, child)or simply those who annoy me (i know that sounds terrible!) Isn't the need to feel superior a form of insecurity? Would like anyone's thoughts.
Anonymous said…
this is a topic i have recently experienced in my close group of friends. one of my friends decided to let me know what they think of my life, my significant other, how we live our lives, and how dysfunctional she thinks we are. and she let me know this all through email. it was devastating. i was completely, 100% caught off guard. i never asked to be criticized, and that is what made it so hard. at that point in my life, i didn’t need to hear her opinion, and i certainly did not ask for it (i had just gotten married a month before, i was living in newlywed bliss). even though my friend and i have since moved past that email, i can honestly say that i have this thin guard of disdain up for what she said. as you put it, it was like poison. it left a bad taste in my mouth. then she did a similar thing to someone else in our circle of friends a few months later. i was just as shocked, and again, i could see that poison seeping its way through our friendships. i found myself asking, why is she doing this? can she not see the harm and tears its causing? is she unhappy with herself? i was livid with her, which in turn made me upset for holding such a grudge. it was just a rotating cycle of sour feelings.

i agree with you, truly seeking the truth from others and being prepared for some potential criticisms is a brave step toward improving yourself as a human being, as hard as it may be along the way. well said, thanks for bringing this topic up, it gave me a change to vent, and its refreshing to know that others think about observations like these.
Book of James said…
Alexithymia, I like that quote.

"No one ever choked to death swallowing his pride".

I try to remind myself that perfection is not absolute. Humility is also not a weakness or character flaw.

Chris, I liked what you wrote. I think the need to feel superior is a symptom of insecurity. I also think you are right on target with the "all in the delivery" statement.

I think even when someone asks for constructive criticism it is an art to make it really constructive.

There are a couple books that I have read that have helped me tremendously.

“Messages” by Patrick Fanning
“People Skills” by Robert Bolton

Stephen, it seems that you are becoming a better listener. In a profession that hurls adulation and praise at you constantly, you clearly understand the challenge.

Thanks and Best of luck!
Lizzy said…
gack. someone whose opinion i value told me today that he couldn't relate to my writing because he wasn't a girl. it stung. i didn't like to hear it at all. but i've noticed that my work only improves when i become aware [usually through another person] of its shortcomings, and that it only gets worse when people are constantly telling me how brilliant i am.
Mich said…
WOW, what a timely word! i was just mulling over this issue myself, because i was just at a counseling class and i had to carry out a roleplay where i was the counselor. lots of feedback returned to very reluctant ears, and i took offence at some of the criticism towards my body language and my speaking tone etc. which wasn't directly personal, but i took offence because it FELT personal. and i've been struggling with that. it IS about pride. and it's also about laying that aside to be teachable, and open. to open the heart and mind and ears.

thank you, stephen! such a timely word, indeed.
Latrina said…
Constructed criticism use to be very hard for me to digest. But I somehow got over it. I listened, I absorbed, and I eventually improved. Friends, family, and love ones aren't criticizing you to be mean, but like you said, to point out the parts of our lives we could improve on, that maybe aren't visible to us - something we've either not noticed or pretended wasn't there. Pride is a wonderful thing & so is constructed criticism - It's always nice to have friendly eyes looking in, they may see something we've missed.
Anonymous said…
damn straight. that one hurt. :)
themockingbyrd said…
Dealing with criticism is insanely difficult, and I honestly admit I hadn't ever really thought about seeking constructive criticism as boldly and directly as you advocate here, instead being happy to just work on whatever was brought to my attention.

I agree that unsolicited critique can be poison in a relationship, but I think that when one is on the receiving end of such brutality, one ought still to seriously consider the content of the critique, and forgive the unfortunate critic.

I can't recall the reference at the moment, but I believe there's a verse in the Bible which explicitly links all sin to pride, and when one (well. When I) thinks about it for awhile, it makes sense.
dana said…
It is so easy for me to think that I can take criticism; that I will listen to whatever is being revealed about me that I never knew and take it to heart. But yes, we are all prideful beings, and swallowing such a trait is easier said than done, although it should be done more often. This entry couldn't have been read at a more perfect time in my life.
Chris said…
Book of James, thanks for the two book references. I appreciate reading all the comments here. Stephen, when I re-read your post, I was struck by the phrases, "compliments seem to waterfall" and "praise is an easy acquisition". I find it hard to have compliments flowing from me. Maybe I hold people to too high a standard? Do I hold myself to the same standards? Guess I have a lot of things to work on!
Rachel said…
so i agreed with you so much and i believe everyone should realize your point so i wrote a blog about it and quoted you...hope u didn't mind.
it'd be great if you can check out my
previous blog to and tell me what you think.
Anonymous said…
oh how i needed this post. it really couldnt have come at a better time in my life. i have experienced the pain caused by unwanted opinions, however, i took a moment to realize why i was so upset and have tried to adjust acordingly. thank you so much for this, it came at the right moment.
Laura said…
i'm perfect. i think those with shortcomings are the people who can't realize that. their loss, not mine.

-hubris hannah
guard my dreams said…
funny thing about this blog. i read it through once and honestly, all i thought of it was "hmm...nice ideas. it'd be really great for that to happen"
but the longer i thought about it i started to wonder about one thing you said. i realize that this wasn't the overall theme of the post, or even anywhere near it, but i just wanted to throw this out there on the topic of giving a friend honest criticism without being asked for it. i think that there are certain circumstances in which that is not only okay, but also necessary. what about when a certain character flaw is hurting the individual and those around him/her?

for example. recently i have been noticing more and more the extreme flirtatious personality of one of my very close friends. it has gotten to the point where she has not only greatly hurt the feelings of a very nice, quiet guy who thought that she liked him, but has even started flirting with other's boyfriends.

now should her we just stand by and watch her hurt those around her, or should we show her what shes doing so that she can change it? i know it will hurt her, but which is better for her in the long run?

so all im saying is that sometimes there can be circumstances where giving a friend honest criticism is the best for the situation. not all situations, but some. if taken with an open mind, constructive criticism can be the best thing for a person.
Andrea said…
really good blog... you know, I'm so self conscious I know most/all of my flaws. I started thinking that people would say that's impossible to know all of them, and I wonder. well that's another story... anyways you got me thinking of some of my bigger flaws I need to work on.

thankfully, me and my best friend will tell each other anything about each other :)

and I also have a sister who complains about EVERYTHING. so she points out every little flaw. maybe I can start to see it as some sort of very irritating blessing
Elodie said…
So unbelievably true. I've been thinking about this lately, and I'm still mustering up the courage to swallow my pride.
Janelle said…
Whenever something is bothering me or if I'm mad at someone, I try to stop & tell a third party what's going on & ask them if I'm justified, or if I'm being totally ridiculous & overreacting. Having those friends who will tell you honestly really helps.
Anonymous said…
this is such a hard topic and I really admire your honestly stephen. heres what's been bugging me and my solution
Lately I found myself thinking relentlessly about balance, I am a devout Christian, and I could not help but think that there had to be a better explanation for moderation than the Yen Yang theory. I was in the car for several hours listening to, (no lie), some of your music, and Relient K's when I came to the conclusion that there is one thing we must never put into moderation, that is Jesus Christ. We cannot Shrink God down into idles, hence the commandment, God is too big for any of that, and he has never asked to be made less or put into a perspective. When it was written, "There is a time for all things," it was not referring to the Father himself, God must want 100% of everything we do, otherwise, he would have told us, half hearted musicians, and half hearted lovers will always make us think that they are missing out. We are made to worship in everything we do, why be a half hearted worshiper? Email Tim Ramsey, (at his website) for more.
Anonymous said…
yea man this was real cool. i once heard this guy speaking at parachute in nz (reggie dabs. hes da man haha) and he sed "dont worry about the praise of men, and you wont worry about the criticism of men" and i thort that was pretty mean a. its really helpd me in heaps of areas of my life to just get on with wat im doin haha coz everyone has something to say and their own opinion, and i really found this made performing and bein a leader so much easier a hehe

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