Thursday, December 1, 2016

Withering critique

This post was inspired by Kaoru Watanabe, an excellent musician and taiko player.  He recently posted on the FB Taiko Community about how when he was in Kodo, after a show, the group would do a review, on the stage.

One show found him getting direct, harsh feedback from the director of the concert.  It was painful to read, and I can't imagine how it felt to receive.  I won't go into what he did as a result of that here (you can find it on FB) but it was positive and got him to the caliber of player he is now.

I've gotten a lot of critique over the years.  Some of it has been constructive, some of it blunt.  Some of it was 1-on-1, some of it was in front of a group.  Some of it was from peers, some of it from people whose opinions had serious weight.  Some of it was in taiko, some in karate, some professionally.

I feel like how you initially receive the hard critique isn't as important as what you do with it.  If a really mean or withering critique makes you angry or sad?  That's fine.  That's just you processing.  I totally get that.  But then what?  Assuming the critique was valid, what are you going to do about it?

It's here where a person defines themselves.  If you're "lucky", the critique was objective, given straight, and you can't argue with what was said.  But if not, it might have been given by someone you don't like, driven home more than enough times, and/or in front of enough people to be embarrassing.  Ouch.  To put your pride aside and separate the chaff from the message is hard, but if you can do it and then work on improving?  That takes some grit.

Now there's a line between harsh feedback and someone just being a jerk, as well as a difference between critique given to honestly point out what needs improvement and harping on someone because it makes them feel better.  Once those lines are crossed, things get more complicated.  Comments like that are a different sort of thing and often speak more to the critiqueR than the critiqued.

Sometimes it's harder to deal with the short-term frustration of getting comments than realizing what's best for your long-term growth.  It might help to think of proving yourself in someone's eyes to give you the motivation to try harder, or to prove to yourself that you can overcome a weakness, but whatever you do, it's best to do something.

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