They are not mutually exclusive. Not by any stretch. Yet, it’s a wonder how some of the greatest critics have nothing much going for them by way of achievements. I have always said I’d rather be the one doing something (even if mediocre) others get a chance to criticise rather than be the one who’s always on the lookout for the mistakes of others. It makes sense to carry out even the most mundane tasks with unfettered gusto. It makes sense because the attitude and diligence with which we execute the basest of tasks is a reflection of how well we’d do if we took up more complex assignments.
However, we will not always hit the mark, and that’s okay because life is a trial and error process.
These days, we have an army of critics on social media. People who are swift to tag someone else’s work as trash.
If they are not deriding a person’s hard work, they are casting aspersions on their character or attributing their success to their looks or connections. Of course, some people leverage their physical features or social connections to curry favour.
But what’s wrong with that if we aren’t being overly pious?
If those with incredible intellectual acumen and sharp wit can deploy their gift to get ahead, why can’t someone who has been endowed with good looks do the same?
And many times, that’s not the case.
Compulsive critics assume it is. It’s almost as though a pretty face or voluptuous body can never be anything other than that. Beauty and intelligence do not mix, they have to run parallel. It’s the reason a fair-skinned actor is presumed to land roles on the sole basis of their colour. Their performance is scrutinised down to the minutest details unlike what obtains with their darker-skinned counterparts.
This is not to suggest that criticism is a bad thing or those who are a tad more difficult to impress are terrible people who have a personal grudge against those they criticise.
Nevertheless, except you are a professional critic—and yes—people get paid to critique all forms of art, you should be more focused on what you’re doing with your own life. You can adjudge a person’s work substandard; that’s far from being a crime. However, your opinion would be far more relevant if you are excellent at what you do.
You see, to knock another’s offering is the easiest thing to do in the world.
Any Brad, Jane, and Sam can sit in some corner and declare another person’s output inferior. And it’s fine, as long as they aren’t putting out basic work themselves.
Unfortunately, this is often the case. Folks who have no form of creation to their name shriek the loudest about the averageness pf others. They are never satisfied because they claim to be pushing them to thrive rather than become complacent in their mediocrity.
It’s hard to see how much time you’ll have to advance your own cause and be a better version of yourself if you are always concerned about what others are doing.
Individuals who led the class when we were in school, top performers in the workplace, and the uber-successful business people are the most inward-looking people around.
If there’s anything they complain about, it’s insufficient time to execute all the ideas they have. Many of them wish there were more than 24 hours in a day, and so, it’s ridiculous to suggest that people like this have the luxury of time to take more than a glance at others and what they up to,
In other words, if you are busy enough, you’ll be blind to other people’s inadequacies.
In other words, be the doer.
In doing, you’ll be more empathetic towards your neighbour.
Remember how we used to think adults were stingy when they claimed they were cash-strapped or told us we would have to wait a little longer for that bicycle we wanted when we were kids?
And then we grew up. And then we realised adults had to work for every kobo they wanted.
The scales of illusion fell from our eyes and we became the same parents we were so critical of.
If we had remained in a perpetual state of childhood, we would never be able to appreciate the blood and tears it took to raise us.
It was by doing that we empathised with our parents.
Those who toil to feed and acquire a few of the nice things in life will never knock another man’s hustle.
The ones who are masters of their craft have a deep respect for shaky beginnings. They know it’s okay to turn out mediocre work as long as one never ceases to try. They also know that perfection is a mirage; everyone is becoming.
But most importantly, they know it’s far better to be the doer than the critic.