Thursday, December 26, 2013

Honesty is More Valuable than Praise

Here's an anecdote:

After most people had left, one of the few remaining guests at the Christmas party I was at happened to be a musician. The hosting family has been known to enjoy his music, so he offered to put in a CD of his, which they were delighted to hear.
"That's me playing the drums on the keyboard," he said during one track, "it's really bad."
I had only just entered the room, and had not heard enough to have an opinion, but it was probably not bad at all. One of the other guests even said "nonsense! It's really good!"
As we passed each other, I chimed in, saying "I thought it was terrible."
"Thanks," he laughed at my sarcastic remark.
After a moment or two of consideration, I realized that this was a fellow creative mind I was in the midst of, and that I understood his nervousness in standing around and listening, waiting to get some sort of feedback and hoping for it to be good. I know what it's like to want to apologize for all the minor flaws that you see in your own work.
I decided to offer up a bit of wisdom on the subject. "Unless people cut you down every once in a while, you'll never get better," I said.
"That's deep," he replied.

I've met creative minds who were terrified of being critiqued. Obviously I didn't actually give the musician a real opinion or advice on his music, since I'd not even really listened to it, but it was nice to meet someone who understood the value of being told your work is crap from time to time.

Always tell me if my work is crap.

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