Criticize This Post, I Dare You!

We have a player in I Love Baseball named Filleral (good luck trying to pronounce that if you don’t speak Spanish). He is only 14 but he is big and fast, a tremendous athlete. Mentally though, he is a 14 year old. He is still goofy. He isn’t always focused. Filleral gets singled out a lot at practice for goofing off, not paying attention or slacking. If he didn’t have such tremendous potential, he would probably get away with more.

As I watched this occurring again today (he didn’t feel the need today to finish his drills through the last cone or sometimes the last couple), it reminded me that in life we are hardest on those we believe in the most. We push them. We make them test their limits. Honestly, we hold them to a different standard. A different person doing the same thing might get ignored or might even get a pat on the back. They are doing their best.

I think that is why I crave feedback. I crave more than just a good job or okay. I want to know someone believes in me enough to push me and not let me settle for less than I’m capable of. When someone isn’t telling me what I can do better, it basically says you’ve peaked or I don’t care enough to push you. You can’t get any better. This is as good as you are going to get. Oh but criticism, constructive or otherwise, screams you can do better! You have what it takes! I think you have more in you! I believe in you!

That may not always be what is heard in the moment and we need to speak a wise blend of encouragement, criticism and love, but I’ll trade criticism any day for the alternative. Pats on the back along the way are nice, but if you don’t reach your goal, what good were they? You are left to sit and wonder, what if I pushed just a little harder? What if I went just a little further past my comfort zone? Did I leave something on the table? I don’t ever want to live with those questions.

The worst thing in the world is to hear nothing (I guess being told you flat out can’t do it would be worse but that might inspire you to prove them wrong. Nothing makes you think, “It doesn’t matter. Nobody will notice anyway.”). Criticism means at least someone took the time and energy to say something. Fine, okay or good are only one step up from nothing. I crave detail. What did I do well? What did I do poorly? And that is why my love language is feedback. I know it isn’t one of the “official” love languages, but it is kind of a nice mix and derivation of a couple that speaks to me.

Random kind of related story: I remember during my senior season of college football, it was getting toward the end of the year and our record wasn’t very good. Our defensive line coach said something to the effect of seniors enjoy the time you have left, you aren’t going to get any better and young guys keep working and preparing for next year. Everything in me screamed no! I have more! I can be better! Don’t limit me! He was wrong. I got better every single day until the last time I put pads on and I think I improved more during those last couple weeks than at any other point in my career. Sad to think that when I was the best I had ever been I had to stop.