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Monday, May 16, 2016

Edwin Hubbell Chapin - Forgiveness

As creative leaders we often face rejection. People ignore our paintings. Editors reject our writing. Critics criticize our work. How we respond to this rejection is a indicator of our character. 

When I was in sixth grade I was asked to be the reporter for our class news in the local newspaper. The criticism I received was that I needed to tone my writing down because it was too much like advertising. I was so deeply hurt that it was years before I picked up a pen and began to write again. But those articles foreshadowed a later career in marketing and advertising where I did actually write ads.

I have been reading the biographies and memoirs of Presidents for several years now.  Even these great leaders had a hard time overcoming criticism and forgiving their critics.  Both Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower felt slighted by the other.  Richard M. Nixon felt slighted by JFK and LBJ and even Eisenhower on occasion.  Nixon's failure to forgive his enemies and his critics led in part to his down fall and resignation.

How do you handle criticism? How do you respond to rejection? Many years ago I submitted two haiku to two different magazines accidentally. The reason I found out is that they both were returned on the same day. The first letter I opened was a rejection slip and it hurt. When I opened the second envelope, I found the haiku was accepted for publication. I learned a valuable lesson that day. There will always be rejection, but there will also be acceptance. Don't focus on the rejection; focus on the acceptance. Editors are fickle and rejection often has nothing to do with you. It has to do with the editor's editorial needs and his personal taste.

Maybe it is time to take a look at your life.  Who do you need to forgive?  What criticisms and rejections are holding you back from success?  What pain and injury must you forget?  What we spend our time thinking about is who we become.  Are you so busy reliving the slights and rejections of the past that you fail to enjoy the present?  Life is too short to dwell on what we can't change. Forgive and move on.