Why You Don’t Want To Be A Critic

John Updike was once asked why he seems to like every book he reviews. His response (I am paraphrasing) was, “Because I don't waste my time reading books I don't like.”

Being a critic is easy. It requires no risk, no creativity, and no courage to take potshots at someone else's work. Especially not in the Internet age, when you can be a critic in relative anonymity.

I am not suggesting that we promote or endorse products, services, books, or art unworthy of attention.

This is where the subtle malignancy of criticism can readily be demonstrated.

It takes more work, and more creativity, to find and promote the worthy efforts of others than it does to be a critic.

It takes infinitely more work to actually be a creator.

To be a creator is to take risk. To risk failure, ridicule, even hardship.

But the rewards are immeasurable. So are the benefits to others.

You don't want to be a critic. It's easy, and it's sleazy.

Be a creator.

Be an encourager.

Be a leader.

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.

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  • MattVestrand

    “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”
    I think of those words whenever I am tempted to criticize.  
    And when I receive criticism I ignore it.  Successful folks don’t have time (or care) to criticize me and my work. So I know, by the very fact I’m receiving criticism from someone, they should be ignored. 

  • Critics drive folks away from them and often justify it with the rationale that people just don’t like the truth. Sad, but much can be learned in this post. 
    One thought on the book review issue…when reading a book, NO book will cover every area. A way to help with pointing out what might be needed in addition to the book is to recommend another that compliments this one. Rather than being a critic, you can actually be quite helpful. This can apply to many other situations beyond the book review.
    Great thoughts in this post!

  • Most people don’t work to elevate others. It’s easier to rally others, and build comradery, by pointing out the flaws in others. It keeps the group constant.
    If you’ve seen the Biggest Loser then you’ve seen how people can change when they’re taken out of their ‘normal’ life. And when they return they abandon many of the things (and friends) that held them back from positive change.

    Thanks for sharing Ray. I want to encourage you to continue on this line of thought. 🙂 The world can use more uplifting people.