How to Tell Yourself the Truth (Hint: Start with an insult)
Where’s John the Baptist when you need him?
John’s task was to prepare the way of the Lord. That looked and sounded like insults to a crowd already well aware of the law and prophets and how to navigate the ancient texts. It’s just that the crowd’s navigation allowed them to do what they wanted while ignoring the invigorating spirit of the texts.
Thus John’s insults.
It’s easy and natural to take insults as insults (that is the intention, after all). But to see them as opportunities? That actually happens to most of us: insults become opportunities…ten years later. It takes ten years, or maybe twenty, to see the truth of what that busybody meddler said. And then in conversation with a friend or your grown-up kid or spouse you find yourself saying, “They were actually spot-on, though I denied it at the time.”
A few days ago an acquaintance called me out on one my typical innocuous and benign conversations about copywriting and communication—he resisted my assertions and would not back down. His insult landed wide of the mark and made no sense to anyone else either, but it got me thinking about my approach to a particular set of clients I work with. In fact, my acquaintance’s sharp barb started to reveal a truth about my approach that has since proved quite useful.
This is atypical.
I usually spend a decade stewing on an insult and devising comebacks and elaborate retributions. But what would life be like if I/we could be more open-handed about criticism?
That might help us grow beyond our blind spots—which might prove useful.
Image credit: Kirk Livingston