Silence the Naysayers: Colonel Criticism

This is part of my ongoing LinkedIn Series: Ten Tips for Ten Days, you can read more and watch the one-minute video at the bottom of this post.

Silence the Naysayers: Colonel Criticism 

Often disguising himself as “constructive input,” the Colonel rushes in with his long, condescending finger ready to point out every perceived problem with your fledgling creative work. He looks for every opportunity to discount or discredit your work on the basis of some perceived flaw or error. 

A stickler for rules and regulations, the Colonel is intolerant of even the slightest deviation from standard procedure. The Colonel throws the baby out with the bathwater, using any mistake or deviation from the "norm" as an opportunity to flush your creative dreams. 

Any fool can criticize.

It is easy to stand on the sidelines of someone else's creative work and find negative things to say - anyone can do that. Criticism does not take any special skill or talent. 

The voice of Colonel Criticism in our own heads can speak as loudly and condescendingly as any other person's feedback and we have to be vigilant to guard our minds against the accusations of this enemy. 

Like Comparison, the Colonel's 💩only works if you listen to it. Find better feedback. You get to choose which thoughts live in your mind. Your mind is vital to your creativity and you need to be proactive to protect your thoughts.

Surround yourself with Critique instead.

The Colonel has a cousin named Critique who is essential to the creative process. You can differentiate them by their feedback - the Colonel can only see shortcomings, while Critique points out places to grow while highlighting your strengths and utilizing them to make you stronger.

Critique is a powerful skill, honed and sharpened through time, wisdom, and experience, to identify areas in need of work and empower future change and growth.

A hallmark of Critique is that it highlights areas where you need to grow and gives you a path toward change. A good Critique will leave you with work to do, but will never leave you hopeless. 

The best Critiquers are very experienced in the creative expression that you are pursuing and know many tools and resources to help you grow. They can partner with you to begin creating with excellence. 

Find the appropriate time.

Keep in mind, with both Criticism and Critique, there is an appropriate time to pursue input in your work. Criticism tries to cut you off at the start, in the ideating phase when you're just beginning to explore your ideas and creative expression. Critique has the wisdom to let you try and experiment, and then come in when you reach the stage of knowing which direction to pursue and beginning to refine your ideas. 

Our ultimate goal is excellence, whatever our chosen creative expression may be. Excellence allows you to have a journey from beginning to end, always with the goal of continual improvement and doing the best we can with the tools that we have at the time. 

Learn how to give good Critiques yourself (and when not to)

The more you learn and grow, the more you will be able to offer valuable critiques to others yourself. Unless you have experience in the creative expression that the other person is trying to explore, you probably shouldn't offer critiques or criticisms. My friend Sarah (the other OG Bright Ideas Girl) loves ballroom dance, and I've never done it before. I wouldn't dream of critiquing her technique or skills. Her teacher, or fellow experienced dancers, however, have the experience to offer a valid path forward to growth and change. 

A good critique should offer one or all of the following to the recipient: increased vision, expanded space to grow, tools, and renewed energy in their work. 

You can read more about giving and receiving a good Critique in our book, Bright Ideas: Light Up Your Creativity, or in additional blog posts here.

Do you want to learn to be more creative?

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I'm doing a series on LinkedIn this week called #TenTipsTenDays where you spend ten days giving a tip each day that relates to your field. I'm focusing, of course, on creativity. This is a super fun way to get the word out about what we do here at the Bright Ideas Collective and share a little creative wisdom with my LinkedIn crew.

If you haven't been on LinkedIn in a while, there's quite a party going on over there now. You should check it out! If you hop on, come find me and let's connect


If you want to be creative, or learn how to work through creative blocks, we have resources for you! You can buy the Bright Ideas Book, with practical actions to take ownership of your creative journey. Now, you can join the Bright Ideas Collective online community where we share and support each other in our journey to being more creative!