When I created a video called “The Emperor’s New Clothes: After the Parade“, I felt a need to share my own personal story. I could identify with the Emperor’s staff. As a kid, I struggled with a fear of negative criticism. For me, it seems all criticisms were the same–DESTRUCTIVE. It was so intense, I feared going through my first work evaluation.
If my friends are reading this article, they’d be surprised. To them, I’m very open and receptive, these days. How did this happen? How did I overcome my fear of criticisms?
The wall of fears came down when I went to work for Arizona Industries f/t Blind. AIB a part of Arizona’s Department of Economic Security. They are dedicated to providing employment and training opportunities the blind and visually impaired of Arizona.
At the time, they had two main components. There was a straight factory providing a variety of production related jobs. The second component is the sheltered work program. In ’95, I enrolled in that program. Though it was assembly work, it was a starting point for my job history.
As a sheltered work program, it was customary to perform a work evaluation. The evaluation is designed to measure one’s performance and improving one’s personal skills. I can well recall the feeling of terror, at the first mention of it.
For me, it meant being under a microscope. In my mind, I imagine someone was examining me, for flaws and imperfections. This thought left a feeling of condemnation, and I didn’t even have the work evaluation, yet.
Thankfully, I was blessed with a wonderful pair of supervisors. Chuck was the floor manager and Pam served as the Director. The Holy Spirit prompted me, to talk with Chuck. I followed through and I spoke of my internal fears. Chuck said, “Don’t worry.”
On the day of the work evaluation, Chuck & Pam started with my strengths. “What is Barry doing that’s right?” For me, this tactic was a radically new concept. I was expecting a hammer and I got a kind word, instead.
Truth is, I am not wired for factory work. Thankfully, my wonderful supervisors did not leave me, with a false impression of my performance. “Don’t be afraid to look at the negatives,” said Chuck.
They gently spoke the truth and they shared some negative feedback. I did need to hear it. How can my skills improve, if I’m not told? How could I improve, if I wasn’t willing to hear it? At the end, I felt encouraged to work on improving my weak areas.
During my time with Arizona Industries f/t Blind, I did have a few more work evaluations. Each time, the process would be the same. My assembly skills were not improving and I did not feel bad, about it..
They did not leave me, twisting in the wind. It was suggested that I try an internship in an office setting. I walked away with a hopeful attitude and I didn’t feel condemned for not doing a good job there.
Looking back, I can say, “God, the Father was definitely involved!” He’s the one, who blessed me with these two individuals. Jesus was already working on my heart.
I learned a few important lessons, during my stay at that place. These lessons would crystallize when I came to listen to Joyce Meyers and Dr. Charles Stanley. I could throw in James Allen; however, he would come later.
What are these lessons? For one thing, I was willing to trust Chuck and Pam. Their kindness is certainly a factor. Sweetness of words does increase one’s persuasiveness.
There is a second component. I chose to listen to wise counsel. I chose to receive what they were saying. A willingness to listen is a critical key. Discernment is the other key that needs to accompany the first.
Did you see the third lesson in the above story? The lesson is modelled by my friends. There is a difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism. Can you guess what method of criticism, my supervisors demonstrated? It’s the good kind.
Destructive criticism involves destroying the person or self. No good thing can come of this tactic. This is the one that should be avoided. For the power of life and death is in the tongue.
Overcoming negativity is a huge topic and I barely scratch the surface. I trust this blog post proves helpful. I would love to write more on the topic. What would be helpful?
There are some great insights from James Allen that could prove helpful. How about Joyce Meyers? Charles Stanley? How about something from Bethel Church in California?