Tag Archives: criticism

Seeing What You’re Looking For

Story of the Day for Tuesday August 7, 2012

Seeing What You’re Looking For

                      Jesus spoke to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the desert to see?” 

                                                    Matthew 11:7

The people flocked to John the Baptist when he preached at the Jordan River. Jesus asked them what they went out there to see. It’s a good question because we almost always see the thing we’re looking for.

Focus, for example, on the color blue, and you will see it everywhere.

Jacques Plante is, perhaps, the greatest goalie who ever played hockey. He led the Canadiens to six Stanley Cups and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978.

Plante was an innovative genius. He was the first goaltender to play the puck outside the crease, the first to skate behind the net to stop the puck for defensemen, the first to raise his arms to signal an icing call to his teammates, the first to regularly wear a face mask – which enabled him to throw his body to stop a shot.

Yet, Plante realized that the fans noticed his occasional mistakes far more than his brilliant play in goal. He once asked, “How would you like a job where, if you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and eighteen thousand people boo?”

We tend to look for mistakes.

Sometimes, when teaching a class, I would take my black marker and make one small dot in the middle of the whiteboard.

“What do you see?” I’d ask.

“A black dot.”

“Anything else?”

“No.”

Then I’d explain that what they were seeing was a large expanse of white, yet we become so focused on the little black dot that the whiteness of the board “disappears.”

When we focus on other people’s faults, we will see them.  There’s nothing wrong, of course, with wanting to help people with their shortcomings, but a critical spirit is harmful because it distorts reality. We no longer see the good characteristics of others when what we want to see are other people’s faults.

When Philip Yancey moved to Colorado, he learned about noxious weeds which were threatening the survival of native plants. In his book, Prayer, he writes about buying a weed-puller and walking up the hill behind his house to look for noxious weeds. He would spot oxeye daisy, Russian thistle, and toadflax.

One day, Yancey’s wife accompanied him and pointed out more than twenty species of wildflowers. Philip said, “I had been so intent on finding the weeds that my eyes had skipped right past the wildflowers adorning the hills – the very flowers my weed-pulling endeavored to protect!”

Consider carefully what you’re looking for in life, because you will invariably see it.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 

Kind Words and A Kiss

Story of the Day for Friday April 20, 2012

Kind Words and A Kiss

What a joy to give an apt reply, and how delightful is a timely word!
Proverbs 15:23

Benjamin West was one of the greatest painters of his day. Do you recall his masterpiece The Death of General Wolfe? Okay, well never mind — he was a good painter. He painted Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. In 1763, he moved to England where King George III had him paint the portraits of the royal family. Later, he became president of the Royal Academy of Arts.

William Barclay describes a time when West was little. One day his mother left him in charge of his little sister Sally. Benjamin discovered some bottles of ink and began to paint Sally’s portrait

He made quite a mess of things, with ink blots all over.

When his mother came home, she saw the mess but said nothing. She noticed the painting, picked it up and said, “Why, it’s Sally!” Then she stooped down and kissed Benjamin.
Benjamin West used to say, “My mother’s kiss made me a painter.”

Kind words and a kiss. What a joyous moment that must have been.

I’m not, however, referring to the delight of little Benjamin West, but of his mother. Proverbs 15:23 isn’t talking about the joy of receiving an apt reply; it’s talking about the joy of giving one.

Many times, of course, we must criticize others, and others must criticize us. But have you ever noticed that those who are habitually critical of others look like they just found a toenail clipping in their soup?

Yeah, sometimes we have to criticize, but it pains us — or, at least it should pain us. Speaking kind words, on the other hand, does more than bring encouragement to the hearer; an encouraging word delights the giver.

This last winter I completed my twentieth Birkebeiner. The “Birkie” is a cross-country ski marathon stretching over thirty miles from Cable to Hayward, Wisconsin.
Thousands of spectators line the course. To reach the finish line you must ski down Main Street in Hayward. You can hear the thunderous roar of the crowd well before you hit the street. Through a P.A. system that can be heard above the din of the crowd, the announcer shouts out your name and hometown as you ski to the finish.

The Birkie is a moving experience. Everyone claps for you and cheers you on. Not once has a spectator shouted “Ski faster! I can’t believe how slow you are!”
Fatigue always catches up with you and when you feel you can ski no further, the spectators provide the lift that sees you through to the finish.

When it comes to spiritual things, I’m a late bloomer, but in recent years I’ve made a discovery. When a fellow skier is injured or has hit the wall, I like to stop now and help. I’m slow enough as it is, and stopping to help others does nothing for my race time.
Over all these years the spectators never shared their secret with me . . . but I’ve learned it’s even more thrilling to give encouragement than it is to receive it.

The Bible says Jesus, “for the joy set before him” endured the cross in our place. Slowly I’m learning how true his words are when he taught us, “It is more blessed to give than receive.”

                              (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Bad News As a Precious Gift

Story of the Day for Friday March 30, 2012

Bad News As a Precious Gift

“Do not rebuke an arrogant man or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will become wiser still.”
Proverbs 9:8-9

If you were the head of a large organization, would you be most receptive to subordinates bringing you good news or bad news?

We would all prefer to hear good news, right? But great leaders realize that an organization’s health depends on the leader’s openness to receiving bad news.

Colin Powell, in his book, My American Journey, says, “The day people stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.”  Problems cannot be dealt with unless leaders are aware of them.  And leaders will not be aware of them unless subordinates feel free to share their gripes with their leaders.

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, shares the same sentiment as Colin Powell.  He says, in Business @ the Speed of Thought, “Sometimes I think my most important job as CEO is to listen to bad news.” He goes on to explain that if you are not receptive to people bringing you bad news, and if you don’t act on it, they will eventually stop bringing you bad news. When that happens, it’s the beginning of the end.

I tend to get frustrated when people complain about me and how I do things.  But that puts me in a dangerous place.  If people anticipate a cold reception when they bring their complaints or suggestions to me, they will stop bringing their concerns altogether.  To no longer have people complaining and criticizing me would feel so good that I would be tempted to encourage them to keep their mouths shut.

But once we are unreceptive to hearing bad news about ourselves, we lose invaluable opportunities to grow in wisdom and character.

A wise man wants to be informed when others see him acting in a way that is unadvisable. He views criticism as a way to grow in wisdom, and encourages others to be honest in pointing out faults in his behavior and decisions.

It’s not fun to be criticized. (Did I say it was fun?  It’s not.)  But we do need to make clear to others that we welcome their rebukes.   We may not agree with all of them, but even if we don’t, we have at least gained the knowledge of how someone else feels about our behavior.

So, how do we let others know that we are open to being corrected?  For starters, if someone corrects you, DO NOT immediately retaliate by correcting them. Secondly, thank them and let them know that you appreciate their honesty and the courage to tell you bad news.  And, finally, take the attitude of great leaders like Colin Powell and Bill Gates and view the delivery of bad news as a precious gift – as a way to be aware of problems and make things better.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

“I Felt Like a Lion”

Story of the Day for Tuesday January 31, 2012

“I Felt Like a Lion”

                       Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

                                                     Proverbs 16:24

 According to a poll reported by Tom Rath and Dr. Donald Clifton in How Full Is Your Bucket?, 65 percent of American employees don’t receive any positive recognition for their work in any given year. The author’s also refer to the U.S. Department of Labor which says the number-one reason people quit their jobs is because of lack of appreciation.

 

The Bible says that pleasant words — words of praise and encouragement — boost us in body and soul. Why is it, then, that compliments so easily get stuck in our throats?

“I don’t want it to go to his head,” we say — as if our praise will lead others into a downward spiral of moral degeneration.

 

Have you heard of the Losada Line? Dr. Marcial Losada found that there is a correlation between a company’s success and the positive-to-negative comments made within the workplace. The dividing line between above and below-average performance is a positive to negative ratio of 2.9. In other words, for a company to be successful, workers need to be making more than three positive comments to every criticism they make of another worker.

Can you take the notion of speaking pleasant words too far? Absolutely — although few of us are in any danger of doing so. The research also discovered there is an upper limit to the positive things we say. If the ratio of positive-to-negative comments exceeds eleven to one, our positive words are perceived as insincere, and become ineffective.

 

When we frequently criticize others, we usually feel that we’re helping them to improve their behavior. The irony is that we don’t respond to critical people. We view negative people as crabby rather than as someone with their welfare in mind.

We do, ironically, respond to criticism from those whose words are predominantly positive.

 

Imagine how you would feel if someone paid you a sincere compliment. Once you’ve been encouraged by their pleasant words, then the beauty of Jesus’ golden rule comes into play: seek to encourage others as the words of others have encouraged you.

 

Barbara Tuchman recounts the story of a corporal in Israel’s armored-corps. After three days of combat he was emotionally shattered.  The destruction and carnage left him apathetic — he no longer cared whether he lived or died.

Schools had organized a program where each student sent a letter and a small gift to a soldier.  When the discouraged corporal saw the letter dropped on his bunk, he thought, “Some silly crap.”  Nevertheless, he opened the letter.

“Dear Soldier,” the letter read, “I am sending you this chewing gum. I am not afraid of bombs because I know you are out there protecting me and will not let anyone kill me.”

The corporal immediately jumped to his feet. “I felt,” the soldier said, “like a lion.”

                                                 (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

Seeing What You’re Looking For

Story of the Day for Thursday August 18, 2011

Seeing What You’re Looking For

                       Jesus spoke to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the desert to see?” 

                                                                                  Matthew 11:7

 The people flocked to John the Baptist when he preached at the Jordan River. Jesus asked them what they went out there to see. It’s a good question because we almost always see the thing we’re looking for.

Focus, for example, on the color blue, and you will see it everywhere.

 

Jacques Plante is, perhaps, the greatest goalie who ever played hockey. He led the Canadiens to six Stanley Cups and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978.

Plante was an innovative genius. He was the first goaltender to play the puck outside the crease, the first to skate behind the net to stop the puck for defensemen, the first to raise his arms to signal an icing call to his teammates, the first to regularly wear a face mask – which enabled him to throw his body to stop a shot.

Yet, Plante realized that the fans noticed his occasional mistakes far more than his brilliant play in goal. He once asked, “How would you like a job where, if you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and eighteen thousand people boo?”

We tend to look for mistakes.

 

Sometimes, when teaching a class, I would take my black marker and make one small dot in the middle of the whiteboard.

“What do you see?” I’d ask.

“A black dot.”

“Anything else?”

“No.”

Then I’d explain that what they were seeing was a large expanse of white, yet we become so focused on the little black dot that the whiteness of the board “disappears.”

When we focus on other people’s faults, we will see them.  There’s nothing wrong, of course, with wanting to help people with their shortcomings, but a critical spirit is harmful because it distorts reality. We no longer see the good characteristics of others when what we want to see are other people’s faults.

 

When Philip Yancey moved to Colorado, he learned about noxious weeds which were threatening the survival of native plants. In his book, Prayer, he writes about buying a weed-puller and walking up the hill behind his house to look for noxious weeds. He would spot oxeye daisy, Russian thistle, and toadflax.

One day, Yancey’s wife accompanied him and pointed out more than twenty species of wildflowers. Philip said, “I had been so intent on finding the weeds that my eyes had skipped right past the wildflowers adorning the hills – the very flowers my weed-pulling endeavored to protect!”

 

Consider carefully what you’re looking for in life, because you will invariably see it.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)