Inhibition or Criticism: Which will you choose?

I was at a wonderfully produced high school banquet last night which had a Great Gatsby theme. It was all immensely fun as the evenings entertainment consisted of a series of skits which mimicked the time roaring 20s. They had one skit with the Marx Brothers, another with Houdini doing an escape trick, and, of course, a little Charleston dancing.

One of the live musical numbers was done by a talented high school girl who belted out a soul-stirring rendition of “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” What was striking about her performance is she carried it out the type of confidence and flair which is rarely felt in a high school performance. It was quite stunning, actually. The strong vocals coupled with an alluring way of singing in front of her peers took a lot of guts. Some adults in the audience were probably squirming a little bit because of the nature of her song, but it was another wonderful reminder about creativity: you either remain inhibited and produce nothing of any real value or you make yourself vulnerable, give out all that you have, regardless of what others will say, and open yourself up to criticism.

What did Aristotle say? “To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” 

That really says it all. When you are being criticized, you are in a good place with your creativity. We have to stretch the boundaries of our imagination. We have to walk boldly where we don’t want to walk. Creativity cannot be confined to a small corner of our mind. It must be free to roam and explore. Along the way we will surely meet some people who don’t understand what we are doing or who don’t agree with what we have produced. Remember, at that point, you are at a good place.

I have a musical production coming up in one month. I have some young actors and singers who are still far too inhibited. I am hoping that confidence will grow over the next couple of weeks, and I hope this remarkable young girl’s performance will encourage them to put it all on the line.

And then be ready for the criticism to come.

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