Constructive Criticism-The Bridge Builder

Words Build Bridges Into Unexplored Regions

Everyone is endowed with gifts and talents. Some become aware of them earlier on and maximize growth potential whereas, others who have tried and failed; maximized failure. The difference between a person who succeeds and one who fails is the person advising them. People who perceive themselves as the authority in a situation; often offer their opinion under the auspices of CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM.

In exegetical terms, the word Constructive: means a discussion, comment, or approach that is useful and helpful rather than negative and unhelpful. The root word Construct oikodomeó (oy-kod-om-eh'-o)- in the Greek, means to build, edify, to encourage, to erect. Constructive Criticism is rendered by a supervisor, mentor, coach, friend, or family member. The most significant difference between each of these is Motive. Mentors focus on the person and offer support for individual growth and maturity while a coach is performance-oriented and focuses on developing skills. Persons performing in these roles should be functioning at a higher mental, physical, and intellectual capacity as well as possess experience in abundance than what you are presently functioning. To some degree, they must have achieved a particular repertoire in the area in which you are trying to succeed in.

"It's not how you start, but where you finish that counts"-Zig Ziglar

To make my point, I’m the CEO of my company. However, what you probably don’t know is; I started in life as a teenage mother. At that time, I could see no bridges that built a path to becoming a CEO. As time went on, my desire to own a business went from achieving to merely existing. You see the moment I gave birth; I became a statistic.

According to the CDC, in 2015, a total of 229,715 babies were born to women aged 15–19 years, for a birth rate of 22.3 per 1,000 women in this age group. Only 38% of teen mothers age 15-17 earn a high school diploma. By age 30, only 1.5 percent of women who had pregnancies as a teenager have a college degree. Eighty percent of unmarried teen mothers end up on welfare, and 50% of teen mother's go on economic assistance within the first year.

There are others seeking bridges from the Statistic column to the Achievement column. That transition for me, began the moment my Teacher Charlestine Waterman told me "I could make it", the moment my Mother Phyllis didn’t force me to drop out of school, the moment Stella R. Payton inspired and challenged my way of thinking when it came to finances, the moment my college Professor Jewell Tucker became my mentor, and finally the moment when I became a member of the John Maxwell team and learned valuable leadership philosophies.

In each of these experiences, I received Constructive Criticism. However, it was communicated with pinpoint precision with a target of growth as the bullseye. Constructive Criticism is designed to build a bridge from where you currently are to where you want to go. It’s a culmination of wisdom and experience being poured into a teachable soul. As an adviser who influences, your words and actions can either construct a bridge for a person to Achieve Greatness or Achieve failure. Constructive criticism and Destructive criticism differ in the delivery of the comments. Destructive criticism can harm your self-esteem, it causes you to second guess your endeavor or idea as well as stifle your confidence. Often, destructive criticism comes from a place of pride, and the individual’s perceived value of themselves based on education and or accomplishments. Surprisingly, it can also come from a place of avoidance of their short comings.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “Criticism is something you can avoid easily—by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” That isn’t an option for anyone who wants to be successful as a leader. My mentor Dr. John C. Maxwell says, “Good leaders are active, and their actions often put them out front which usually draws criticism.” For example, when spectators watch a race, where do they focus their attention? On the front-runners! People watch their every action—and often criticize. Because criticism is a part of leadership, one must learn how to handle it constructively.

Now that I have obtained credibility in overcoming the statistics of teenage pregnancy, I can influence those who are facing such challenges. Going forward, ask yourself, What’s Your Story behind your Constructive Criticism? Learn to be wise in your approach to providing constructive criticism to others. Choose to Build and Not Tear Down.

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