The Guy in The Cheap Seats
“Indiana Jones is irrelevant to the story.”
“What?!” I gasped with fearful indignation.
“Yeah, If you remove Indiana Jones from the story’s plot, the Nazis would have found the ark, taken it to the island, opened the lid, and all died. Just how the movie ended. He’s totally irrelevant.”
I sat there for a looong while trying to poke a hole in that idea. And, never came up with a way to put one of my favorite movies back together.
It is wonderfully fulfilling to holler at others from the cheap seats —You pick apart people’s grammar, find the errors in other’s work and embrace the necessary condescension to point them out (hopefully in front of others) to those whose flawed work needs your analysis and correction. You are, of course, immune to the work itself. No need to fix the problems; just find and smugly announce them.
It goes without saying that after pouring your heart into a project, only to have someone look over your shoulder and casually mention the thing that it’s missing generates a level of frustration that has the heat of a nova. It’s even worse when they are right.
Those people in our lives who are comfortable lobbing smirk-filled thoughts don’t get enough credit. And, despite the natural desire to staple their lower lips to their foreheads, these cretins are worth listening to.
Those of us who do, who make things, who move the ball down the field are, of course, able to ingest a measure of criticism— as long as it’s constructive. We all are driven by an uncompromising desire to succeed. So how can we not listen to the critique that will make our product, process, or business better?
Yes. We will sit quietly as our blood pressure rises, our teeth grind down what’s left of our enamel, and slowly exhale the hot steam of the judged. We do this because that’s the price of success.
Here’s the thing. When you are charged with direction and execution it is solely you who frames, views, analyzes, builds, and completes a project, it narrows your field of view. You are forced to go small in your thinking to ensure the details aren’t missed.
The ironic truth is it’s really not that hard to come in behind someone and see what was missed. These people are not encumbered by the knowledge of every incremental step you took to get to the end. He or she is unburdened by the actual process, the planning, or execution. Despite the reflexive desire to defend and dismiss the criticism the unasked for critique is a good thing.
So the next time someone offers feedback, and you perceive it remotely accurate, suck it up, overcome your impending frustration and listen. If not — and it is clear all they want to do is hear their voice drone from their perceived place of superiority… well, then politely ask them to not let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya, or perhaps something a little less crass — your call.