It is not the critic who counts

Beginning this 4th of July week with a quote from a great American:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

These fine words come from Teddy Roosevelt, speaking at the Sorbonne in 1910.

You know, I’ve run this quote every 4th of July for the past 15 years. And every year, I feel more strongly than ever that TR must have been talking about social media. 😉

There are plenty of critics on the internet, and in your company, and in your life. And they all want to comment, critique and caterwaul about how poorly you’re doing at some thing. How deficient you are. How lacking.

If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself tangling with them. Arguing. Debating. Wasting your good hours on their bad intentions.

It proves again the old saw:

“Don’t wrestle with a pig in the mud. You’ll both get dirty and the pig will just enjoy himself.”

And that’s because your critics don’t count, Richard.

For some reason, they have a meaninglessness in their lives that leads them to find an outlet for their anger, their despair, their angst.

There’s a hole where there should be fulfillment. There’s a pit where there should be friendship. There’s a crack in the wall of their lives that they’re seeking to patch up with your anger, your outrage, your disbelief at the untrue, unfair, unkind things they lob at you.

This Fourth of July don’t give them the one thing they need to keep going: your attention.

You can declare your freedom. You don’t need to respond to their quibbles, get upset at their slams, or take their knocks seriously. Your critics need you to survive, but you don’t need them at all.

That’s what TR was trying to teach us. Your critics don’t count because if they were the type of productive, positive, profitable professional who could teach you something, they wouldn’t be doing it in an unkind, unprofessional way.

So this Fourth of July, declare your own Independence from your critics, and spend your time with your family, your friends, and your own good self.

And let your critics wallow in the mud alone.