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“Being Responsible Sometimes Means Pissing People Off”

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

          Here’s an idea to help you better cope with your critics.

              Have you pissed off anyone today? You will — if you’re a leader. Take it from General Colin Powell, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and former Secretary of State: “Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.”

       Go ahead. Piss someone off today in a salute to your  personal  leadership. Criticism is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, you can’t have it.

     Without criticism, there can be no leadership. After all, criticism confirms that change is taking place. After all,  they know that a dog doesn’t bark at a parked car. They know that people throw stones only at trees loaded with fruit like these:

“Silly, flat dish-water utterances”

  1.          In politics.  The Chicago Times called Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in November 1863   “silly, flat and dish-water utterances” that must “tingle the cheek of every American with shame.” The London Times said the speech was “ludicrous, dull and commonplace.”
  2.         In music. Beethoven, the great pianist of his time was criticized for playing “noisy, unnatural, over-pedaled and confused.” Beethoven even criticized fellow pianist Mozart: “Mozart’s touch was neat and clean but rather empty, flat and antiquated.”
  3.          In science. Rocket inventor Bob Goddard was personally attacked in the New York Times for seeming to “lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.” In 1926, six years after the New York Times editorialized that rockets could not operate in space, Goddard blasted himself into the history books —and the Times critics into oblivion — with the successful launch of the first rocket.
  4.          In journalism. Al Neuharth, the founder of USA Today, parlayed criticism into giving life to the nation’s first newspaper with flashy graphics and short snappy stories. He said that without the steady barrage of criticism from other media “we (the newspaper, USA Today) probably would have been stillborn. Instead people wanted to see this newborn kid (especially since it was) being denounced as a demon.”

                                  Criticism Stirs the Creative Juices

        I have found that the most effective leaders see criticism as a catalyst for continued action and reaction that stirs their creative juices. Hell hath no fury as an artist scorned. Consider Michelangelo. He painted 20 nudes in the Last Judgement  for the Sistine Chapel. A Church official criticized its “indecency.” Michelangelo retaliated by painting the Church official in hell, his face flanked with donkey ears. The Church official pleaded with the Pope to erase the face. The Pope wittingly said he could intercede only for those in Purgatory. But the Pope had no power for those in Hell.

             So be glad when you hear someone calling you a #%&#&!!!!  After all, as Edmund Burke, the British statesman, noted “he who opposes me and does not destroy me strengthens me.”  That criticism that initially stings your ears and pierces your heart may spark you into a new creative arena at best or confirm your leadership position at the very least.  So go ahead. Get ahead. Make someone mad today.

Today’s ImproveMINT
Embrace criticism as a catalyst for continuous improvement to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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