Turning criticism into gold is one of the most powerful skills you can learn in your journey of life. We all know that at some point, we’re going to receive criticism and most of us don’t take it well at all. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could learn how to not let it impact our emotions and take away whatever gold lies within the insult? Well, I’m going to teach you how to do that, with a little practice you’ll be mining gold out of criticism in no time flat.
What is Criticism?
Criticism comes in all sizes and forms, both in healthy deliveries and others that are incredibly toxic and hurtful. The purpose of criticism is to provide someone with feedback that will AID them in making an improvement. For this purpose, you should be able to mine a significant amount of value out of the criticism you receive once you’ve learned the mining process.
What do you do with the hurtful criticism? The same thing. We like to think that hurtful criticism bears no truth, and that may be the case at times, but more likely than not you can find valuable truth even in most hurtful criticism. This isn’t an easy feat to accomplish, we’re wired to protect ourselves and especially our egos at time. Don’t worry if you’re not able to immediately begin the process and need some time to cool down.
Ideally, the individual delivering the criticism is a healthy person who is able to deliver that criticism with care, because they want you to be able to learn and grow. Even so, we have a tendency to not take it well AND simply because someone cares does not mean their own motivations don’t taint the feedback they provide. The best of good intentioned criticism does not always hold merit.
Does Merit Exist?
The first question you must ask yourself any time you receive criticism is, “does merit exist in what this person is saying?”. To do so you must put your ego and feelings aside and ask this question honestly.
Here are some necessary evaluations you must make to determine if merit exists:
- Who gave you the criticism?
- Do they have standing in their claim, in other words, do they have any expertise in the subject matter?
- Was it delivered sincerely, out of anger, etc?
- Do they benefit from helping me or hurting me?
- What is the motivation for telling me?
- Who else can I ask for honest feedback about this matter?
No single answer to any of these questions will determine the level of merit. What asking these questions allows you to do is sift through the portions of criticism that are not productive and focus entirely on the gold within.
Mining for Gold
Example: “You idiot! You always see the best in people and never think twice about trusting, that’s why you ALWAYS get screwed over by people taking advantage of you!”
Let’s break this down…
- Obviously the person who said this was upset.
- It would appear they are upset because the intended recipient has been taken advantage of, so it would appear they care.
- Is the person an idiot? No… of course not, those are hurtful words… flush them.
- Do they “ALWAYS” get taken advantage of? That’s harsh too, but worth evaluating. Perhaps it is a quite frequent occurrence and worth being aware.
Now, what’s the gold then? If this were me I might think…
“Perhaps I have been a little naive. I’ve loaned 9 of my friends money and only 1 has repaid me. None of the others even try, in fact, when I ask about it they criticize me for asking and often ask for more. Perhaps I trust too freely and have not set firm boundaries. I need to have more respect for myself as well as evaluate the character of my friends.”
See? Gold… you can pull from any criticism the truth that can help you become a better version of you.
What if the person was the friend you loaned money to and you asked them to repay you but they responded with, “You greedy jerk, I told you I would get you the money back! Why are you always bugging me!?!” Imagine you loaned it to them a month ago and they said they’d pay you back in a week. The only other time you asked was 2 weeks prior when they were already a week late in repaying you. Is there merit in their criticism? No. Not a single ounce.
The Richest Man Who Ever Lived
I learned this process from reading the Steven K. Scott book The Richest Man Who Ever Lived, which is a book about the wisdom in the writings of King Solomon, primarily from the book of Proverbs. I haven’t read the book in at least 5 years, but every time I do it adds tremendous value to my life. You’ll notice I included a link to purchase the book from Amazon just above this paragraph and if you’ve downloaded my recommended book list, you’ll notice this book is on it.
Learning this process changed my life. I no longer struggle to find the value in criticism and am quick to dismiss that which has no value. It does still take me a moment to subdue my ego from time to time, but I will always be looking for the gold once I set my feelings aside. I cannot tell you how beneficial this has been to me over the years. It has helped me avoid distressing over unmerited or malicious cracks and brought self awareness to areas in my life I wasn’t able to see myself.
You will be wise like Solomon when you learn to mine the gold out of the criticism you receive and dismiss the rest. Scroll up, get the book and start mining for gold in your life today. I’d love to hear your stories about how the wisdom you learn adds value to your life.