One of my favorite speakers and teachers of the art of the spoken word is Rob Bell. Though he often speaks on the subject of religion (something that I know little about,) I find that his idiosyncratic style always offers me a takeaway of epic proportions by way of craftsmanship and also relevance. In his most recent episode of his podcast, The Robcast, entitled “Bird and Lime” he spoke about the elements of implicitness and explicitness. It’s a tangential episode, but one worth indulging into because of the relevance of the message. I encourage you to give it a listen, however, for the purposes of this week’s Pilates Inspiration, I’m going to break down how these elements have helped empower me to do things differently in order to find my purpose in my work. Here we go:
“New” in the Pilates world is often times met with a “side eye,” followed by some level of “that’s not Pilates.” It can be as simple as wearing something different, cuing an exercise a different way, or changing the way you run your studio. Or, it can be as impactful as a piece of writing, a new platform for how Pilates is delivered or even a new professional tool. The fear is there because we’ve either seen or heard of it happening to others and/or experienced this critique ourselves. To be on the receiving end of it, in short, sucks. But the “suckiness” of being critiqued is not nearly as serious as the risk we run for not trying new things in our work, and our industry.
Though you cannot innovate without judgment occurring from someplace, you can navigate through the process of being critiqued without letting it swallow you whole. To start, we must understand the types of critique we may be inviting through our endeavors.
The fundamental nature of doing something new is that it includes implicit critique within it.
This happens when you are simply doing something differently than everyone else. You clearly know how everyone currently does it and yet, you’re still gonna do it your own way. Your act of doing it differently and potentially with less effort, or more success, carries critique even if you never acknowledge that the other way is not effective/not current with the times/poorly crafted etc.
Unfortunately, when you implement change, it sends an invitation to others to evaluate the status of their own work. This is an uncomfortable but SUPER IMPORTANT element of growth in any field. What is strong, will remain strong. What needs work will be revealed. People don’t like this because it creates a level of discomfort and agitation. They may even choose to vocalize this and/or critique your work itself. It might hurt a little if this happens and it might hurt a lot if this happens, but it will be ok if you choose to focus on your impact, rather than on avoiding the critique alltogether.
I use the following questions to ease the fear of critique and also take the temperature as to how important it is for me to put the idea forward:
- How might my idea open doors for others to expand their work?
- How might my idea invite connection and collaboration?
- How might it help to create discussions that help us find solutions to the weak elements of an industry that teaches bodies to be strong?
- Will I be able to let it go if I choose not to pursue this idea? (an important one)
- What support systems do I have in place to help me when the inevitable critique arrives? (sometimes it doesn’t but the support helps regardless)
This happens when you essentially state in some form that the “old way” is bad and now you are going to do it a new way. I personally haven’t found this way of presenting an idea to provide fertile ground for collaboration, but it happens and so it’s worth exploring.
If you find yourself completely angered, frustrated, or flabbergasted by something in your work or business so much so that it causes you to create a new way and then you choose to state this frustration as the reason for your creation, you will most likely run into some level of friction with the people who are still using the “old way.”
The questions that I ask myself when innovating from a place of frustration are:
- Am I really frustrated about this thing or could it be something else causing the anger?
- Does this feel like I’m creating from a responsive place or a reactive one?
- Is there more than just frustration that is driving me to create?
- Am I willing to risk alienating others to put my idea forward? (a “yes” answer to this one is OK!)
- What support systems do I have in place to help me when the inevitable critique arrives? (you see what I did there?)
The thing I am most afraid of in this industry is that you will not create because of the fear of critique. It’s going to happen and while you can’t avoid it, you can definitely prepare yourself for it through examining your intention, potential and impact. When you share your ideas, philosophies or innovations it invites others (like me!) to reexamine their own and though the process is uncomfortable, it’s SO necessary for growth to happen.
I hope this post helps to break down some of the fear surrounding critique and helps you look at it as a necessary part of your contribution, however large or small. Go forth with support and create. There are many more people in this world in need of the work we provide than there are people to provide it. The world is waiting for your voice and so am I!