Your Toughest Critic
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

Who is your toughest critic? For most of us, we are our own. Although true, it can have significant impacts on our mental health, performance, and career. How we analyze our performance is crucial to our long-term happiness and success.

At MACNY, we use a quarterly performance conversation approach. Each team member does a very brief self-assessment on how they are doing with their development and job performance. Then we talk about it. Without question, most people are harder on themselves than I could ever be. Sure, we all have blind spots where we can’t see where we need to improve, but typically we know where we need to improve – and we often know how. Overall, that is a good thing. However, when we don’t applaud what we have done well and forgive ourselves for mistakes, we lessen our confidence, diminish our enthusiasm, and restrict our ability to excel in our areas of strength. Knowing ourselves and being self-critical are two different things. One is good. The other is harmful.

As a leader, I need to remind people how good they really are – as people and as teammates. We need many more positive comments than negative ones to maintain our passion and focus. Research shows that a positive to negative ratio of feedback is required for growth and happiness. According to some studies, its best at a 5 to 1 ratio. I try to add to this ratio for others each day. Also, each individual needs to add to their own ratio by acknowledging the good things they do. This too has become my focus. Letting go of past mistakes or hurts is another way to lessen the negative influences on our performance.

The overall voices in our heads need to be positive for us, grateful for what we are doing, and excited about the future. These three attributes – positivity, gratitude, and excitement – define successful organizations, teams, and people. Yes, talent and hard work are also necessary, but those alone cannot adequately compete in our fast-moving, global economy. I see this every day in my interaction with member companies.

So, are you your own toughest critic? Can you shift from toughest critic to greatest supporter? How quickly can you move on from failures and mistakes? Do you see the good you do – and praise yourself for it? Are you positive, grateful, and excited about your performance and life? If not, what would it take to become so? How can you be a positive influence on others by helping them see their strengths and recognize their successes? Do you know someone who could use your help right now to see just how talented they are?

Our toughest critic is often ourselves. It’s time to shift into being our greatest supporter. When we do this, we help ourselves and everyone else around us.