This is a post about finding someone in your life who is critical of you.
We’re part of the over-esteem generation. Our grandparents were more likely to be cold, distant and reluctant to praise or coddle.
When our parents raised us, many of them over-compensated for their lack of praise by building us up with doting affection and constant positive reinforcement.
The self-esteem movement of the early 80s created a generation of over-praised kids. Kids who think everything they do is wonderful. Kids who grew up on self-esteem and never learned to properly deal with criticism.
I think every person needs a dislodger in their lives.
When I was much younger and just learning how to play basketball, I would get teased at school for only being able to dribble with my right hand. This stung me, mostly because it was true, and because I was also dealing with buck teeth, a pigeon chest, no leg hair and a breaking voice.
One day, at the local basketball centre one of the coaches yelled at me across the parquet floor.
Crocker! What the hell are ya doing, learn to dribble with your left-hand for god’s sakes!
I was burnt by the public call-out. But I’d had enough. And every afternoon for that whole year, I used to take my ball and dribble left-handed, up and down the 10m concrete strip in my backyard. After a few months I dribbled equally well with both hands and later that year made the regional team.
This is a tiny story. But as a kid, I saw the good that came from the bad I felt when people called me on my weakness.
This is dislodgement. You move from where you were because the criticism stings and you end up in a better place.
We tend to think everything we do is right because we do it. We make thousands of decisions every day on vague assumptions, without full information and subject to our cognitive bias.
And yet, we still overestimate how much we get right and underestimate how much we get wrong.
That’s why you need a dislodger in your life.
Someone who values the truth and your long-term well being over your short term emotional state or ego. Someone who will tell you what they really believe without fear.
I think we need to embrace the dislodgers more.
People who speak the blunt truth often get complained about. But if it’s the truth, we should be listening.
(Originally published October 5, 2010)