To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing.

To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing. – Elbert Hubbard often misattributed to Aristotle

Many people criticized the Wright brothers. Many had tried, all had failed. But the brothers considered the sources, double checked their math, and did something.

Many people criticized the Wright brothers. Many had tried, all had failed. But the brothers considered the sources, double checked their math, and did something.

What does that mean?
This quote is often misattributed to Aristotle, but is actually by writer Elbert Hubbard, from his book “John North Willys” : “Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing, and you’ll never be criticized.

This is the way of the world. There will always be those who criticize. Too much or too little, they will never be satisfied. Sometimes, even your friends get in on the action. But they only have your best interests at heart, of course.

There is a way to avoid criticism, of course. Hide from the critics. Do nothing to cause them to notice you. Don’t do anything. Don’t say anything. Don’t be anything that might cause them to go off on you. That just doesn’t sound like much of a life, does it?

Why is learning to accept, or ignore, criticism important?  
We all have a limit of how much criticism we can take. We have to decide how much criticism we can handle, and from whom. Criticism from random strangers is not going to have too much of an impact on us. From a close friend or valued family member, that might hurt a bit more.

We can also work on getting a tougher skin. Learn to accept that others have their own opinions, and occasionally speak them out loud. That’s their right. But you don’t have to listen to them, nor do you have to give them any credence. They talk, you ignore. Pretty simple.

Learning to ignore criticism is tough, but necessary. If you don’t learn how, you will spend the rest of your life moving away from doing or saying or being anything that gets you criticized. You would be a ship sailing away from every stray breeze. Will you ever get to your destination like that?

Also, be careful about how you criticize others. There is being mean, and there is being helpful. The latter is often called constructive criticism, and it is a very useful tool, but it must be applied well. There is a difference between blunt and mean, so learn it well.

Where can I apply this in my life?
I would use it in any places where you tend to get criticized. This will require a great deal of objectivity. That can be difficult, but it can be done. You will need to analyze both what you are doing, and the motives and experience of the people criticizing.

It’s hard to tell the difference between the people who tell you not to do something because you’ll end up killing yourself, and those who tell you not to do it because they believe it is impossible.

Consider the warning of Daedalus to Icarus about flying, and how that might have hurt him, to be criticized by his father. Then consider those who criticized the Wright brothers about trying to fly. Which was criticism should have been listen to, and which was to have been ignored?

However, sometimes even the experts are wrong. Sometimes you just have to take the criticism, and let it toughen both your skin, and your resolve. That can be hard to do, but sometimes it is necessary. The alternative is to do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing, right?

The flip side of this quote is to be careful about how you criticize others. This involves some tact and some ability to guide the other person, instead of just criticizing. Don’t be the person who is known as a mean and critical person. Several TV talk shows had their leads labeled as “The Queen of Mean.”

One hint that will help is to have an alternative. Don’t just complain about what they are wearing, suggest something else instead. Don’t just complain about what’s for dinner, provide some alternatives, and offer to help out with the added work.

We all have our ideas and opinions. Sometimes we even share them out loud, with other people. Please take the time to both consider how the other person might take it, and how you can make the opinion helpful. It can be done, it just takes a little practice.

Say something. Do something. Be something. Critics will criticize, after all, that’s what they do. Give those who are worthy some consideration, and ignore the comments of those who are unworthy. You must do what you do.

From: Twitter, @tonyrobbins
confirmed at : http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Aristotle#Misattributed 4th entry
Photo by Jim Bowen

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