Would You Pay Someone to Criticize You?

Friday, September 27, 2013

phil mickelson golf caddy
No one likes criticism. We try to avoid it and avoid those who seem it is their job to give it. We dread the yearly job performance review. Leaders are no different. They are good at giving it but lousy at receiving it. Professional golfers are the exception and have got it right when it comes to criticism. Golf is the only sport where athletes actually pay someone to follow them and point out what they are doing wrong. That person is called a Caddy. The best professional golfers will admit that their success, in part, is due to the person that follows them around the golf course. A caddy does more than just carry golf clubs. Their main job is to constantly analyze the golfer's swing and club choice.

If we want to be great leaders we need to embrace the mentality of a professional golfer. We must embrace criticism. We need to seek it out and welcome it rather than avoid it. I'm not saying we should listen to every opinion from the dozens of armchair quarterbacks that are always more than happy to point out our faults. We need "leadership caddies" that will give us expert advice and constructive criticism that is necessary to point out our flaws and weaknesses and help us become better. I think the difference between a good leader and a great one is the ability to embrace criticism.

This is a Biblical principle that is modeled in the life of the Psalmist David. In Psalm 139:23-24 David prays a courageous prayer. He asks the Lord, "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." One of the greatest character qualities of this great leader of the nation of Israel was his openness to criticism. He welcomed it and sought it out. I believe this is why David is referred to as a man after God's own heart in Acts 13:22.

Our culture needs more leaders like David who embrace criticism. Criticism is never easy and it takes courage and heavy doses of humility to welcome it but it will propel us from being just good leaders to great leaders. It has made Tiger Woods one of the greatest golfers of all time and it made David the greatest king Israel ever had. Beyond our leadership it will help us become a person after God's own heart.
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