Success Through Persistence In The Face Of Criticism

Criticism can destroy or stimulate. It is especially powerful when we are our own critics. Most individuals or groups will have to face up to and deal with their own or someone else's criticism if they wish for success.The Ukraine team lost 0-4 in their first group match of the Word Cup 2006.

They were so motivated by this loss and the resulting criticism that they won their next match by 4-0. They played like a different team. Fair criticism worked well for them!.David Beckham, England's captain, has one way of dealing with criticism - work. Hard work is one effective response to criticism.Some football coaches have banned newspapers from their training camps in case the comments of the media demoralized their teams.

These coaches realize the damage that unfair, negative comments can do. We criticize ourselves enough without the assistance of the press!.Unfair criticism, especially self-criticism, can break you unless you believe so much in what you are doing that you can persist in working without recognition.When I was moved up a year at my school I was criticized by my new classmates who were a year older than me. They called me 'Watty The Swat!".I thought I must be doing something wrong and gave up working for the next two years.

Later, I realized that there is nothing wrong with working hard but criticism can mean that you start to doubt your own values.One group who persisted and worked on in the face of unfair criticism were the French Impressionist painters. Recently a BBC program featured their lives.The program claims to be based on true records from the past but one must allow for some poetic license in the narrative and dialogue.

Monet lived longer than his Impressionists friends and was eventually able to enjoy the success and recognition his talent deserved. However, even he had to suffer the criticism of fools.At one point the Impressionists held their own unsuccessful exhibition at the Salon of Rejects. One visitor paid his franc for a ticket and read aloud the following press critique:.

"On looking at the first rough works and 'rough' is the right word, one simply shrugs one shoulders. On seeing the next lot, you burst out laughing but, at the last one, you finally get angry and you are sorry that you did not give the franc you paid to get in to some poor beggar.".The visitor commented: "No, that's not it. No! Give your franc to a beggar then he can go and buy two of their paintings with it.".

In another incident, a man and a woman were laughing at one of Monet's paintings. Monet noticed this with some annoyance and went over to confront them."Something about the work that you don't understand?" he asked.

The man replied with a smirk:."Oh! the artist himself. Actually, I do have a question. Yes! How is your eyesight?".Monet was furious: "I think you should leave now!"."No! We've paid our money.

We're having our entertainment!"."This is an art exhibition not a circus!"."Oh! So this wasn't painted by a clown?"."Maybe, I should make myself clearer?"."Oh! I agree with that.".

"You are upsetting my wife.".At this point the obnoxious visitor and his companion left the salon.Much later in his life, Monet commented:."They said we were declaring war on beauty and that wall paper in its embryonic state was more finished than our pictures but our young heads were filled with beauty.

".Monet painted a picture and called it "My Impression Of Sunrise.".Someone gave his impression of the picture: "My impression? Unimpressed!".From this insult came the name "Impressionism".Monet exclaimed ruefully:.

"A name - the only return on all that work!".Paul Cezanne was also included in the BBC program. Cezanne kept painting in his unique and powerful style with passionate persistence in spite of criticism and indifference.His own father told him that he was wasting his time:."You're not earning a penny. Perhaps you're not good enough.

".His friend Zola told him: "I want you to paint the world; then at least you might sell something.".

Cezanne replied: "I am painting for myself not to amuse other people.".He lived on handouts from his father and Zola.The critics were brutal. Cezanne told Zola:.

"The critics call my work the cult of ugliness painted by a madman with the shakes made by loading pistols with paint and firing them at the canvas!"."Well, you're an artists' artist," said Zola."Manet called me 'a brick layer who paints with a trowel.

'".Cezanne confided in Zola in a way which he later came to regret."I am rolling a rock uphill, Zola, and either I keep on rolling it forever or I let it roll back on me and crush me. But the thing that keeps me going is the hope, the belief that one day I will pick up that boulder with my hands and hurl it to the stars.".Zola wanted Cezanne to be more commercial in his approach:.

"What if future generations just like pretty, pretty paintings?".Cezanne was not discouraged and walked off."Where are you going?" said Zola.

"To paint!".His answer to criticism, like David Beckham's, was to work.Nor did Cezanne's passion for painting burn low.

For example, he found inspiration in a mountain outside Aix He painted it sixty times from different positions on different days. 'Landscape with Viaduct' is one of the paintings.He commented that he only had to turn his head to left or right to find subjects that excited him.Cezanne kept going not knowing whether he would ever reach his destination. He just kept painting and painting.Zola told his rich friends:.

"I told him that there was no future in the impressionist artists but, frankly, he still keeps going. My dear friend Cezanne does not think enough of public opinion. He despises the most elementary things, language, dress, hygiene - but none of this would matter if he had genius.".He held up his glass mockingly: "To Cezanne and his lack of genius!".

Zola did not recognize the brilliance of his friend. He even wrote about a character who was a 'splendid failure' in his novel 'The Masterpiece'. This character felt as if he was forever pushing a rock up a hill without ever reaching the top.Cezanne recognized himself in the character in the novel and was upset. He never met Zola again but he kept painting with relentless and persistent determination.

He was the last of his group to be recognized.Eventually an art dealer, Ambroise Vollard, sought him. Cezanne was less than welcoming."I have to tell you that I am extremely busy and will be for the rest of my life!".The art dealer told him that he wanted to put on an exhibition of his paintings.

Cezanne replied: "Can't you think of better ways to waste your money?"."People should see your work or you'll die forgotten. I'll organize it all".Over 152 pictures were shown and paintings by Cezanne were sold at last."You must be pleased with what we sold," said Ambroise.

His fellow artists were keen to buy. But Zola did not come to the exhibition. Cezanne commented ironically:."If only he had known that I am bowling Paris over with my masterpieces.".After many years of persistent painting, Cezanne's genius was finally recognized:.

His fellow artists told him "Cezanne, you have shown us the future." They assured him that he had laid the foundations of a new century for a new generation of modern painters.In 1906, CÚzanne collapsed while painting outdoors during a thunderstorm. One week later, on October 22, he died of pneumonia.

His painter friend, Claude Monet, commented: "He died wishing like all of us that he had more time.".In 1999, CÚzanne's painting "Rideau, cruchon et compotier" sold not for one franc but for sixty and a half million dollars. It was the fourth highest price paid for a painting up to that time.

Both Monet and Cezanne had kept painting even though they were deeply wounded by the criticism they received from enemies, friends and even family.Their persistent work in the face of relentless criticism allowed them to achieve enormous success. Cezanne was eventually able to pick up the rock of his despair and hurl it to the stars.Persistence can help us all to pick up the rocks in our lives whether they are rocks of failure, debt, or lost dreams.

Persistence will allow us, too, to hurl these rocks to the stars or at least push them to the top of the hill.Like Cezanne, we may well die wishing that we had more time. It is important that we ignore criticism from ourselves or others and get on with making daily efforts to achieve our dreams before our time runs out.

.About the author.John Watson is an award winning teacher and fifth degree black belt martial arts instructor.

He has recently written several books about achieving your goals and dreams.They can be found on his website along with a motivational message and books by other authors like Stuart Goldsmith

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By: John Watson


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