A while back I tweeted “You never learn from compliments. Love your critiques”. Obviously, in a tweet you cannot elaborate on this enough and “never” is just as toxic as the word “always”. I still think this is true though, even while it is always nice to get complimented on what you do, it won't make you a better person in itself. What, instead, would help you to become a better version of you?
On The Art of Manliness, a great post on Men & Status was published yesterday. People want to sound confident and will let you know that you shouldn't listen to what others say about you. It is a small piece of the post, but it really triggered me:
Not caring about what your equals think of you is a recipe for narcissism and mediocrity; when you’re the sole judge of yourself, you tend to be quite lenient and flattering in your assessment. Listening to the feedback of those you respect keeps you honest, accountable, and motivated to strive higher and do better. Iron sharpens iron.
NOW I'M LISTING THREE POINTS BECAUSE THAT'S EASY TO READ AND IT MAKES ME LOOK REALLY SMART (STATUS!) EVEN THOUGH IT IS JUST SOME TEXT.
Improving yourself starts with caring. I'm doing this by creating time to read each morning during my commute and listening to interesting podcasts. I do this by regularly setting apart some time to evaluate how I think I am doing. I set weekly goals with Derk, my accountability partner and he gets to judge me. I know a strict working schedule works for me, so I get up early to get ahead of everyone else.
With care comes the willingness to hear from others. Not everything is worth taking into account, but it can never hurt to listen. I want to become so much better at this, but good listening starts with stopping whatever you are doing, turning towards the one that is speaking and asking questions. This is why the “of those your respect” part is so important. Gather a couple of great people around you that are not only celebrating the really good parts, but are also allowed to say the stuff you need to hear in order to grow.
3. Do better
Now you have your input. The next step is to actually go ahead and be a better person. Lots of people are able to identify things to improve. Most people will be able to point out flaws in other people. Only a select few are willing to put in the hours to actually get better. This is hard work, most people won't see it and you won't reap the benefits straight away. It is still worth it, because with every new good habit, every great book, each hour you spend in the gym rather than in front of the TV, each well crafted email you send, you're building a better version of you.
So: care about yourself, listen to those you respect and do better this week.