Being critical and appreciative are two distinct acts. Most people can criticize freely—behind a person’s back, as long as they are not facing the person under scrutiny. That is because looking another person in the eye and spelling out her limitations is a tall order for many. Criticism is not essential neither not easy.
It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
Separate judgment from criticism. If you don’t appreciate other’s work, appreciate their context, empathize with their circumstances, identify yourself with them, you can’t see the efforts of others, and your mind becomes very small. Each time you employ your qualities of generosity, patience, equanimity, and compassion, you can make your mind bigger, your heat broader, and convince yourself of your own good self.
Recommended Book: ‘The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt’ is Pulitzer Prize-winning biography by Edmund Morris. Morris’s masterful volume chronicles the life of this mercurial, multifaceted, and paradoxical man who became the 26th President of the United States. Morris’s inspiring and educating book describes how one of America’s most respected men and champion of progressive reform was mostly self-educated, yet graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1880. The young Roosevelt eschewed the traditional, genteel, upper-class lifestyle of his wealthy family in favor of the rough-and-tumble of New York politics.