In the Face of Failure
How do you respond to criticism- whether it be the constructive kind or the straight up unkind opinion?
This past week I was faced with some constructive criticism that took me a hot minute to wrap my mind around.
When I was younger, specifically in my early twenties, I would welcome constructive criticism with open arms. I think then I wasn’t as sure of myself or had the confidence in my abilities and capabilities that I do now, so as I was finding myself and molding my strengths I was more open to what others had to say as it helped me find my way.
Today I’ll be telling a slightly different story.
I generally receive constructive criticism well, especially if I’ve already sensed it myself. I’m also more of a confident person in my capabilities and in my value to be able to deflect or seriously consider the criticism.
I also can tell the difference between genuine criticism or if it's simply coming from a malicious source- always be aware of that difference.
I feel like in society we struggle between our value coming from who we are versus what we can do.
As a Christian, I have confidence in my value knowing that God loves me despite what I do, and that I don’t have to perform a certain way to receive His love. It’s always there. You can pick that up in the Bible in the New Testament that we are not valued because of our works, but because we are God's chosen children. From that knowledge of love and value we then set out to do good works, but that’s a conversation for another day.
So as Christian I know my worth and value doesn’t stem out of the things I do, so when I make a mistake I can still know God's love and know I’m still a valuable person. It shouldn’t hit as hard as it would if I felt I was only as good as my actions.
Talk about taking the pressure off.
However, I am still human and am still flawed. Though I’d like that to not be the case, it’s the truth.
As an Enneagram 5 personality I live in knowledge. Knowledge helps me understand, knowledge helps me feel like I can bring something to the table and knowledge helps me feel competent.
I must also admit that I haven’t challenged myself in an academic area since my masters- so I haven’t really been in a position to fail recently, at least in a way that might slight my ego.
As you know I am working towards getting my license to be a Life Coach and this last week was a challenging week for me in this regard. Now I also know there were new factors present as I am starting my fertility journey and I have had extreme hormones pumping into my system.
But with struggles or failures I want to always take something away from it. So this past week in my peer group it was my turn to coach. Now this isn’t my first or even second time coaching- I wasn’t being thrown feet first into the water…. I have knowledge and skill in this area.
But on Wednesday I was not emotionally prepared for this conversation but since I gave my word that I would do it, I went through with it and though the majority of the coaching call was done well and the outcome was of great value, I lost myself along the way. I was struggling with anxiety that I couldn’t control (and felt the hormones didn’t help) and there was a moment I got stuck and switched from coach to a counselor role and started counseling my client, which is a big coaching no no.
At the end of the call we debrief. We have a third person who has been observing who goes over how things went. I have been meeting with these ladies weekly since December and I have grown to really appreciate and love their hearts and their opinions, so I genuinely respect what they have to say.
I will admit I already knew that I had messed up and when my observer confirmed the mess up I was discouraged. There’s always a part that is thinking maybe they didn’t notice, but she did, and I’m thankful she did.
You see I could have taken this moment and let it define me and let it destroy my self-esteem. But I decided that I wasn’t going to let this moment redefine my abilities.
I prayed and I sought advice from others to affirm that this is something I’m skilled at- I just had a bad day and knowing within me that this is what God has called me to, I know I needed to stick with it.
So taking my weak points and struggles I decided to make this a learning opportunity. The next day in class I brought up my struggle and vulnerability in front of classmates and my professor and asked her if she had the same struggles. She also was a counselor first- she gave some great advice and helped me refocus and then gave some great resources (an enneagram 5's favourite thing) to help me though the area I was struggling in.
I took this moment of potential weakness and decided to face it square on and to better myself in this area. I feel that being self aware and knowing where my value comes from has helped the bounce back and the change in perspective make this a learning experience instead of an all out defeat.
So it brings me back to my original question, how do you respond to criticism? Do you let it redefine you or inspire you for greater?
Again, thanks for spending some of your Monday with me,