If you could pick only one, would you consider yourself to be a critic or an artist? Your answer to this deceptively simple question could give you an interesting insight about your approach toward the opportunities and experiences that shape your career and influence your choices.
There are fundamental differences between a critic and an artist. A critic is someone who forms and expresses judgment on the merits or faults of something. Critics ponder and react to what is already there. They initiate their work in response to the creations they observe in the external world. Critics focus on translating their perceptions into commentary and articulating their reactions to an audience.
The artist, on the other hand, is a creator. Artists initiate their work from a more introspective, intangible world. The artist's inspiration is internal, a process of translating emotion into a tangible reality. The output of their effort enables others to reflect and connect with the emotional world represented by the creation.
Being an artist is not easy. Creating something whole and fresh never is. The process itself requires courage and commitment to self-discovery. Picasso once noted that "every act of creation is first an act of destruction." To achieve uniqueness, one must destroy sameness. To achieve breakthrough, one must break with convention. Yet distancing one's self from sameness and convention makes one susceptible to fear, to the criticism of others and the disinclination to pursue a new path.
We all have the ability to perform in ways that will make us artists of our own future. We can either spend time blaming, critiquing and reacting to whatever is out there, or we can use our talents to paint our own canvas.
Our career is like a painter's canvas, a platform upon which we can express ourselves. It is our blank slate. We can either create beauty — in the form of possibilities, hope, aspirations and positive impact — or we can spend our time as a critic, while allowing others to paint the canvas for us.