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When I Learn To Embrace Criticism, These 10 Amazing Things Happened

When I Learn To Embrace Criticism, These 10 Amazing Things Happened

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

There was a time in my life when I hated, and even feared, being appraised or evaluated. I didn’t like being told I was wrong. In fact, I tried to live a ‘careful’ life or lied to avoid these horrible encounters.

Do you find yourself bending over backward to try to win someone’s approval? Or try to hide something you feel won’t get approval?

Do you pull yourself in and try to make yourself physically small when you are criticized?

When someone makes a comment about you, do you become defensive, or go take the other route of going quiet, while at the same time as your mind races around attaching all sorts of meaning to the comments?

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Critics abound! None of us are immune to them.

You cannot control what others say to you but, when you learn to embrace criticism amazing things can happen.

New horizons open

Criticism can open you up to new ideas and new ways of looking at things. When you pay attention to the words being spoken and not the criticism itself, you just might get a glimpse of a brilliant idea that you can use or expand upon. Listening to criticism had lead me to make some positive moves that I hadn’t thought of.

Listening skills become sharper

When you realize there is value in listening to what is being said, you become an active listener. The typical reaction would be to mentally begin preparing your defense as you partially listened. When you stop doing this, you begin to listen attentively to the whole comment. Separating the gems from the rubbish and then use them to make adjustments and gain success.

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Have more win-win scenarios

When you dig in your heels and defend your position at all cost, you could be doing so at the expense of losing friends, family or a job. Sometimes when you know there is no way to reach an agreement, the best thing to do is to agree to disagree. It is surprising how fast the tension eases and the conversation changes. An adversary could become a friend.

Improve relationships

Criticism gives you the opportunity to explore your people-pleasing tendencies. Relationships based on the need for constant approval can be draining for all parties. You cannot control what other people think and it is an energy drainer to try. When you stop pleasing others it is very liberating and your relationships often strengthen.

Saves time and energy

After receiving criticism, if you spend hours stewing on what he/she meant, what you should have said, or engaging in mental arguments, you are wasting time and energy. You lose focus and become less productive. However, if you can refrain from reacting and quickly appraise the criticism for it’s worth then move on, you save time and energy. For me, this is one of the great benefits of embracing criticism.

Become less stressed

When you acquire the ability to let go of your feelings and thoughts around being criticized you naturally become less stressed. Letting go of worries and fears releases the stress that you hold when you are in a defensive mode. When you no longer make yourself small and start to curl inward like you want to hide, you know you have let go. You can stand tall, be open, and listen for what you can use.

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Instills motivation

Many times criticism magnifies you inner insecurities. You may have doubts or insecurities around something, but the moment someone points it out you are off to prove them wrong. I was great at coming back in attack mode. The beauty of it is that once you get beyond that which is holding you back you realize it wasn’t so bad after all. You might even be motivated to take on something completely new.

Recognize genuine vs false criticism

Some critics give you useful comments while others have no constructive value whatsoever. It is important to differentiate between what is useful and what isn’t. This is very valuable as you strive to do bigger and greater things in life. The greater your success the more criticism you will receive. Know what to ignore and what to heed can be invaluable.

Create clear boundaries

There are times when critics deliver their message in less than tolerable ways. When this happens you might reply with, “You are making some valuable points but, I think I would be more willing to accept them if you didn’t raise your voice.” It is one thing to give criticism, it is another to be rude or arrogant. Letting others know how you feel establishes a boundary of what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Accept imperfection

Receiving criticism well reminds you that it is okay to have imperfections – in yourself and others. If you can admit you aren’t perfect and strive to make improvements in these areas, you’ll experience more happiness, peace, joy and success.

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Accepting that you, and everyone else, is perfectly imperfect makes life so much easier and happier. This is was a great relief in my life and I am lighter for it.

In what ways has embracing criticism enhanced your life?

Featured photo credit: Full Speed Engines on the Disney Cruise/TreyRatcliff via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

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Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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