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Bettering Others and the World You Live In

You Can Count on Critics

you can count on critics

You can count on critics all day, every day. They can be counted on to be consistent and relentless in their efforts. You always know where they stand…on the other side of whatever you do.  Critics are simply Haters.

Critics can be found everywhere.  They can be found on the living room couches during college football season, the bleachers of any youth sports activity, in board rooms, in hallways, the backseats of vehicles, the editorial section of newspapers, and especially in the comments thread on a social media post.  Sometimes they can even lie withing oneself.       

John Maxwell says that, “When you get kicked in the rear, you know you are out in front.” Leaders emerge at the front of the pack, critics linger behind waiting to pounce. If you have ever led in any capacity, you have encountered critics. Leadership requires decisions, which opens the door to criticism.

In this week’s post, we look at the three things you can count on critics for in your leadership journey:


Ever seen a discouraged leader? If you peel back the layers of that discouragement, you will find a critic, and sometimes many critics. The discouragement that a critic piles on a leader adds unnecessary weight to their shoulders that already carries a heavy enough burden. Eventually, if enough weight amasses, it can break a leader’s spirit.

Truett Cathy, the Founder of Chick-fil-A once said, “How do you know if someone needs encouragement? If they are breathing.” When we count on critics for discouragement, we need to run to those people who provide encouragement. They breathe life into us, not rob us of it. They are the antibody to the disease of discouragement that critics can so easily infect us with.


Critics and their negativity are just a distraction. You can count on critics to take your eye off the ball. They will never affirm your path forward, they will only create fog that gets you lost along the way. Distraction leads to lack of focus. Leaders must relentlessly focus on their vision. Vision is the ability to see further. Pursuing a vision requires looking forward, not sideways, and certainly not backwards.

How do you remain forward focused in the midst of criticism? Just lean into your why. The heaviest burden a leader carries is that of their people. The people are our why.  When critics distract, they impede our ability to lead people well. We end up more focused on their criticism, than the direction we need to head.


I called offensive plays in the sport of football for twenty plus years. I always told the parents at the beginning of each football season that every play I called was intended to succeed. Never did I hear a critic on a touchdown call…never. Now…after a play that did not go as intended…here they come. Heck, if I had known the result of a bad play, I wouldn’t have called it either!

When a decision does not produce the desired outcome, it’s a breeding ground for critics. They lay in the weeds until the decision is made, the consequences of the decision happen, then they emerge from the abyss. Critics are responsive, not proactive. You can count on critics to delay their critique until they know the outcome. The worse the outcome, the more intense the critic.

I think we could all agree we have made mistakes worthy of criticism. If we had the ability to delay decisions until we knew the outcome, we would be perfect leaders, and that is not reality. Leaders are proactive deciders, we are not afforded the ability to be delayed deciders.


This past weekend, I was reminded of another place you can count on critics to operate…outside the field of play. 

I was sitting behind the backstop, down the first baseline of my son’s JV baseball game.  Two photographers showed up and took their position beside me.  The kids were in high school and were there to take yearbook pictures for the opposing team.

I overheard them making fun of a players who didn’t get playing time.  Two people who weren’t even In the Arena.  They weren’t even in the game. 

In leadership, our biggest critics will be the ones that have never even played the game, ones that have never stepped on the field. 

The ancient philosopher Aristotle gave us a few ways to avoid criticism entirely.  He said, “to say nothing, be nothing, and do nothing.” 

Criticism sucks.  It doesn’t feel good. But…it’s the fair territory of leadership.  Be willing to take the field.  The players that we lead on the field need us. 

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