I recently heard a woman, after a church performance, degrade a compliment given to her. In fact, I heard her do this same thing several times. This past month, she began playing for the church choir (hey! I don’t have to do it anymore!) They performed and she did a fine job. I sat in the foyer with a friend after church visiting and observed many people approach her. They told her that she did a great job, and some made very specific compliments. To every one of these people, she would say, “I made a lot of mistakes. Did you hear when…” and she would go on to detail where she felt she faulted.
As my friend and I walked away, I turned to him and told him how much that type of behavior drove me crazy. Most people that compliment you on performances, do so out of the goodness of their hearts. Thinking particularly of the church crowd, most cannot spot many mistakes. They are trying to show their appreciations and how do some respond? By telling them that they must be mistaken for thinking that any part of that should be appreciated. What should be done instead? Say thank you, smile, and move on. It’s really that simple. There will always be another performance, another chance to do better, another chance to simply say thank you.
As performers, we notice our own mistakes far more than we notice those of others unless we are consciously seeking for these mistakes. I think that’s applicable to life too, yes? We see our own faults much more clearly than those around us.
One thing I’m learning this year is to simply acknowledge that others may appreciate my efforts and not try to justify the reasoning. In my effort to be more bold with my own life, I am starting to recognize the amount of courage it takes for others to put themselves on the line – to make themselves vulnerable to criticism. It takes a real amount of guts to put forth any sort of effort in this life. We should be taking more time to say thank you to each other and truly mean it as it is said!
I have been out of school for several years but as I reflect on criticism and performance, that is where my mind takes me. As a piano student, I went through years and years of lessons, juries, competitions, recitals, etc. We were always being critiqued and told what we lacked. It is a vicious life lesson to learn about being so hard on ourselves. I admit that I am harder on myself than anyone else could be and I could probably say the same for you. So, maybe we need to take more opportunities to say thank you to ourselves and acknowledge our efforts and accomplishments. I’m a beginner at this concept but I’m working at it one day at a time.
So my challenge for you today is to say thank you – to yourself, to others. Find three people today to acknowledge and maybe up the ante tomorrow. We can do this. We have got this!
Be bold. Be appreciative. Be you.