Do you ever search 43 Things? I love going through it to see what goals people have for themselves. I like seeing where my own goals and accomplishments fit in with everyone else’s.
On 43 Things, 21 people want to learn to take criticism but 77,000 people want to get a promotion. You know what’s wrong with this? The way to get a promotion is to take criticism well, but most people don’t know they don’t do it well.
Everyone knows they are supposed to get a mentor. And in fact, getting a mentor is one of the best ways to get a promotion. But few people understand that the best way to get a mentor on your side is to take criticism well. This means not only hearing it, but acting on it immediately, and reporting back to the mentor that you have done that.
Which means that a key to finding people you can learn from is finding people you can take criticism from. There’s a great discussion on the blog Vineograph about how hard it is to find critics to trust. This is as true for wine recommendation as it is for career recommendations. The conclusion on this discussion is that you have to know a bunch about the person before you can decide if you trust their criticism. But before you trust someone, you have to start listening.
So I listen to tons of people, always looking for new, competent critics who I might be able to turn into mentors. People always ask me how I deal with so many negative comments on my Yahoo column. The answer is, I read them looking for good critics because you never know where you’ll find them.
Do not choose your critics because they are the best at constructive criticism. Your best critics may be totally undiplomatic; you need to find the people who best understand your best attributes. If they understand your strengths, then they understand when you’re not using them.
For this reason, I listen to Michael Kemelman who blogs at Recruiting Animal. He rips on me all the time in his blog. And he rips on people I publish, like Ryan Healy. But Michael is smart (and funny) and I have always known that he understands me even as he makes fun of me.
Last week he confirmed this. He sent me a list of four of his favorite posts, and the list means so much to me because they are posts that are only at the very edge of career advice, and they are my favorite kind to write.
So, here’s the list of favorite posts from one of the harshest critics I listen to: