As leaders, pastors, artists, and creatives, we naturally fall into a comfortable place, not allowing ourselves to be pushed. The trap of living in this place is that it can keep us from becoming all God has intended us to be. There are two things that I have learned over the years that can keep us from growing:
1) Fearing Criticism
We can all admit that we hate criticism. We run from it and we avoid it. Our natural tendency is to crave approval, attention, and for people to like our work, but this can become a trap if we are not careful because we will naturally gravitate to the praise and run from the critical feedback. But the critical feedback is what will make us better. One of the best leadership principles I have ever learned is to seek criticism and not praise. I’ve learned that this will keep me humble, but also keep me focused on improving. Learn to embrace feedback. Feedback exposes weaknesses. As soon as one is exposed, it is human nature to want to protect and defend yourself. However, the moment you begin arguing for your weaknesses, they become yours to keep, along with their negative consequences.
In learning from how Pixar operates, what seems to separate Pixar from the rest of the pack--and indeed other film studios outside of animation--is that they embrace a deep commitment to personal feedback. It is not simply a one time deal. Their ideas are tested, refined, discarded, and exchanged. All of their movies begin as rough drafts full of bumps and flaws and only through empowering employees to speak up and make suggestions do they get better.
It’s hard work to constantly evaluate yourself and your work to find room for improvement, but in order to get better it has to become part of who you are. Instead of viewing feedback as something to be feared, turn it into a significant part of the growing process that needs to be embraced.
2) Fearing Failure
Fear of failure will keep us from learning new things. We need to learn to love risk, love the unknown, and try things that have never been done before. With that risk comes the potential for failure, but through failure is where we learn the most. Struggle, risk, and failure, is a prerequisite for growth. You learn through failure, and you never fail unless you risk. But here is the deal: Risk is scary. There’s a potential for failure every time you take a risk. But I’m convinced failure is one of the best things that can happen to you. Learning from failure will teach you more than a book or class ever could.
I love a culture where effective leaders very deliberately seek to foster an environment where generating risky ideas is both plausible and permissible, and where failures ultimately become a successful learning opportunity.
Don’t allow fear of criticism and fear of failure keep you from getting better!
Pastor Walter Allen Robbins serves as the assistant to NLC's lead pastor, Pastor Joshua Gagnon. He is also responsible for overseeing NLC's creative team. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his family and being outdoors. Walter lives in Dover, New Hampshire with his wife, Maegan, and their three girls: Cadence, Alivia, and Brooklyn.