Sunday, October 28, 2007


Criticism = Love

After you’ve tried your hardest at something, whether it’s writing an article or practicing soccer, do you get offended when your coach, friend, or colleague tells you that what you just did was wrong?

An angry soccer coach may scream, “Don’t kick the ball with your toe!” or “You’re doing it wrong!” The same goes for a writing partner, but the tone would probably be more constructive. “You should use an active voice here,” or “I can’t visualize the character. You need more description.”

The other day I watched Randy Pausch give his final lecture on Oprah. I was watching because I knew Kris Carr would be on there, and you know how much I love her! Her appearance was amazing, btw. And after she left the stage, Randy came on and recited part of his final lecture that he’d given to his students. He said a ‘final lecture’ is something that professors’ give based on the idea of a made-up assumption: pretend you’re going to die and this is the last speech you’ll ever make. But for Randy, it was true. He has cancer and was diagnosed with three months to live. The speech was dedicated to his kids and brought tears to my eyes... The whole thing was touching, inspiring, and heart warming. You can see it embedded below.

One thing that stood out for me was something he said about his little league coach. His coach was old school and would yell at him all practice, You’re doing it wrong, go back, do it again, you owe me pushups, etc. And after practice one of the assistant coaches came up to Randy and said, “You know the coach rode you pretty hard. That’s a good thing. That means he cares.”

Randy went on to say that if you’re doing a bad job and no one points it out to you that means they’ve given up on you. It was something that stuck with him, and it stuck with me too.

Sometimes we’re afraid to point things out or to criticize a co-worker, writing partner, or friend. With our helpful, womanly nature it’s much easier to let things slide—ignore the bad, and roll with the good. But this isn’t being helpful.

Now, sometimes our team and editors tend to “ride each other pretty hard,” as you’ll often see in our blog posts’ comments. We correct each other on terminology, grammar, spelling, and fact checking. This is only because we care about one another and want to bring out the best. This kind of criticism = love.

Here's the video with Randy Pausch -- check it out if you haven't seen it already!

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