Stop Being So Critical

I loved this Op-Ed by Michael S. Roth in the NY Times: "Young Minds in Critical Condition."

He says:

Our best college students are very good at being critical. In fact being smart, for many, means being critical. Having strong critical skills shows that you will not be easily fooled. It is a sign of sophistication, especially when coupled with an acknowledgment of one’s own “privilege.” [Bold emphasis my own.]

Yes, how many times did I hear "critical thinking" thrown around in my education? SO MANY TIMES that's how many. But, like he goes on to say, it's not that great of a life skill. And in fact, it could be a hindrance to a more open and creative learning process:

In campus cultures where being smart means being a critical unmasker, students may become too good at showing how things can’t possibly make sense. They may close themselves off from their potential to find or create meaning and direction from the books, music and experiments they encounter in the classroom.

And why do I care? Out of college? And not a professor? Because it resonates with something I've been thinking a lot about since moving up here and that is:

The value of exploration and support over tunnel vision and criticism. 

Opening this inn has been a learning a experience in a thousand ways. But I've especially appreciated having the opportunity to get better at being flexible, and at being able to work towards the big picture of something while not letting small, daily frustrations, inconsistencies, and unforeseen situations stress me out or throw me off course.

We knew things would get complicated, we knew things wouldn't go as planned. But instead of feeling critical (of myself and my team and this property) we've been able to come up with solutions that will make this place even better than we first planned.

I'm not saying I'm an ace at it, but there's something about the folks we're working with and the pace of country life that's opened me up this way.

I've talked about how living up here has cut down on the rat race of constant comparison, how it's made me reconsider things like being a "city person" at heart or how I think I might want to raise kids. Every day I'm surprised by what a difference this surrounding has made in how I feel and interact with the world. And it's funny because I've spent years abroad and when you're out of the country you expect these kind of changes and this kind of reflection, but not so much when you move within the States.

Regardless of exactly what is bringing these questions to the surface, I'm happy to be asking them.