Stop Ego Stroking, And Start Inviting Constructive Criticism Into Your Life

Today was the first day of my Junior year of high school. Don’t worry though, I won’t bore you with talking about the beautiful girls, and ratchet hoes in my class. No, what I’d rather discuss is an interesting observation I had.

Being the first day of school my classes consisted mostly of the teachers discussing their expectations of us and the material planned to be covered in that course over the next few months.

As you might expect this was extremely repetitive, and tedious to listen to every hour. To add to this, however, there was a girl in one of my classes who had a comment for literally every single thing the teacher said. The girl, who we’ll call “Chatterbox” wasn’t trying to be mean, and her first few comments were even funny, but as you can imagine her constant interruptions quickly got old.

I think the reason she kept making comment after comment isn’t because she’s socially retarded, but because after we laughed at her first few remarks her ego got a validation boost.

She continued to announce her thoughts to the class because when someone is rewarded for something they’re more likely to do it in the future. As long as the rewards continue they’ll continue to do the action that’s producing them. When the reward, (in this case validation) is removed the person will typically realize that the behavior is no longer producing the desired results and then move on to something else.

However, even if the reward is removed, if the person still perceives themselves getting the results they desire they’ll continue with the action.

In this case, even though we found her annoying by the 4th or 5th time, we were still laughing simply because we couldn’t believe how many times she was interrupting the teacher. “Chatterbox,” didn’t know that though and she continued to interrupt because she thought we were laughing with her rather than at her.

(“Chatterbox” was almost as obnoxious as me the time I pretended to be Spiderman in Target.)

Your Point Is?

It’s impossible for us to objectively review ourselves. Every observation we make of ourselves is subjective, and thus, often inaccurate. It can be difficult to see our own flaws which I why I can’t recommend relying entirely on yourself to identify them.

“Chatterbox,” wasn’t trying to be annoying, but because of the difficulty in evaluating your own behavior she probably still doesn’t know she was driving us crazy. The solution?

The willingness to accept constructive criticism. If you want to make it to the next level (especially socially) you need to be willing to put your ego aside.

Eric Thomas, one of my favorite motivational speakers often says that, “You can’t shine bright like a diamond if you’re not willing to get cut.

Your Homework

Because today is the first day of school in Racine, I think it’s appropriate that I hand out some homework tonight. Don’t worry though, unlike the garbage they give you in school this will be well worth your effort.

Your homework for today is to actively seek out constructive criticism from two people by the end of the day. These people don’t need to be your best friends, but they should know you well enough that they can provide you solid advice for things you could do to become a better person.

Whether it’s your parents, siblings, teacher, boss, friends, whatever is irrelevant. Just let them know that you want a completely, uncensored opinion of your shortcomings and what you can do to improve.

Also let them know, that NO MATTER WHAT they say, you won’t hold it against them. This is important. You need to be willing to have someone brutally bash you if you want to get any benefit out of this. If all you’re going to do is have people stroke your ego you’re wasting your time.

And remember, NO MATTER WHAT, you can’t be angry at them for telling the truth. You asked them not to censor themselves, and if you get angry with them they’ll never give you honest constructive criticism again.

To those that actually try the exercise let me know how it goes in the comments. I’d love to hear the responses you get!

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Still experimenting with giving myself an hour to write and forcing myself to be done at the end of it. So far it’s working pretty good I think! Definitely creates a sense of urgency and prevents me from nitpicking which word to use and instead focusing on on the big idea.

(Picture from Spring Break 2013)

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