April 20, 2007

The compliment and the acrimony

In Success built to last I read this fragment about Maya Angelou: "The reward for the doing must be the doing. When people tell her they love her work, she responds with a simple, "Thank you." And when called a "liar, or hack or worse -I've been called all those things- I say, "Thank you.". If she buys into the adulation, it would make her vulnerable to a focus on outside opinion -so when she hears harsh criticism, she would be vulnerable to that as well.
Neither the toxic nor the intoxicating influences of celebrity status are helpful in achieving your goals. Angelou feels they both threaten to distract from the creative work. "As the African proverb says, I don't pick that up; I don't lay that down. Because, if I were to pick up the one (the compliment), I have to pick up the other (the acrimony). And I still have my work to do!"
I like the idea of not being distracted by both criticism and compliments. I think it is an interesting and wise thought that compliments can be distracting too... The remark "I still have my work to do", shows a great focus and determination, which must be very fulfilling. What I also like is to thank the other person, not only for praise but also for criticism. It implies you think the criticism was well intended.


  1. Hi coert, I've commented on this in my latest blog

  2. Hi Michael,
    I have read your response (For other readers, see: http://openchanges.com/blog/archives/13).

    I particularly liked the "thank you for teaching me humility" response....


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