Shitting my Pants: Why Self-Criticism Is My Closest Ally

To be your toughest critic is to be your closest friend

Lazy critics ignore the significance of the work they’re criticizing.

Good critics, especially harsh critics, crave improvement.

If you’re a lazy self-critic, you won’t appreciate the amount of work required to achieve your goals. You will pounce forward, collapse before the finish line, and blame the loss on yourself.

The lazy self-critic doesn’t respect the difficulty of the goal. Unlike the tough self-critic – the self-critic who craves improvement – you’ll frame your incompetence as static. And maybe it is. Maybe you’re not cut out for the big leagues. Maybe this is a waste of effort. Maybe slamming your head against a wall isn’t the best way forward.

If you’re a tough self-critic, you realize the mismatch between your goal and your incompetence. If you’re a tough, reasonably harsh self-critic, you’re okay with never being comfortable in your own skin.

Constantly bothered, motivated by their incompetence, the tough self-critic sees the day as another shot at success. But the journey doesn’t end at the finish line, at the trophy ceremony, at the pop of the champagne bottle. Nor does the journey begin again when success is finally reached. For the tough self-critic, the journey – the great journey – is the process of constantly striving to be their best in any situation, no matter how ugly, disagreeable, or stressing.

Do yourself a favor and criticize yourself. You’ll be glad you did. I do it all the time. I think everything I make is shit. Really. Everything. On my worst days, I think everything I make is as embarrassing, foul and retched as shitting my pants with no restroom in sight. When I feel more forgiving, everything I make is as good as leftovers.

But that’s why I keep making stuff. I use my self-criticism as motivation. It gets me out of bed. It forces me to write. It helps me record podcasts. My self-criticism humbles me. I know I’ll never be as good as I’d like to be. How good I’d like to be is galaxies away from who I am today. My future self and my current self are made out of different DNA.

I keep making stuff because I can’t stop shitting my pants.
(And because leftovers taste terrible.)

A call to action that won’t bode well on LinkedIn

Go.

Shit.

Shit your pants. Shit your friends pants. Shit your parents pants.

Wherever you go, leave a big, stinky pile of shit in your wake.

Keep shitting over and over wherever you go, and eventually your shit won’t smell so bad.


Further reading for the budding self-critic

  1. Seth Godin is one of my favorite writers. Everyday he shares his timeless wisdom on creativity, life, and business. His post The world’s worst boss is my favorite piece on self-critique. Highly recommended.
  2. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Putting off your dreams? Not anymore.
  3. Anything and everything spoken by David Goggins.

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