Posted by: everynation | April 21, 2008

Criticism & Crappy Seagulls

by Steve Murrell

Chapter 4 of John Maxwell’s “Leadership Gold” sure explains a lot about my job, and maybe yours. It is called, “When You Get Kicked in the Rear, You Know You’re Out in Front”.

Here are some quotes from chapter 4, with my comments:

One of the prices of leadership is criticism. When spectators watch a race, where do they focus their attention? On the front runners! Few people pay close attention to the racers who are out of contention. Racers who are viewed as out of the running are often ignored or dismissed. But when you’re out front and ahead of the crowd, everything you do attracts attention. — John Max
Why didn’t they tell me that 24 years ago?

Criticism is something you can avoid easily – by saying noting, doing nothing, and being nothing. — Aristotle
Not an option. Like it or not, we have to say, do and be.

Some (people) are like seagulls. When something goes wrong, they fly in, make a lot of noise, and crap all over everything. — Ken Blanchard
Seagulls and critics – the same yesterday, today, forever.

Here’s the deal. When it comes to leadership – at some point something will go wrong. Then the noisy, critical, crappy seagulls will show up on cue, and criticize. How will you respond to their criticism?

When our seagulls show up, we can…
Ignore the criticism,
Attack the critics,
Defend ourselves.

Or we can…
Listen to the criticism, no matter how painful,
Learn from our critics, no matter how unfair,
Look for that grain of truth, no matter how microscopic.

I know it’s not fun, but it’s part of leadership.

Steve Murrell is a missionary, pastor, and the author of “The Reluctant Leader” and “The Accidental Missionary.”


  1. What a valuable nugget, I believe most of us have, at one point or another shared the hurt of criticism- mostly unfair and also as a young leader. This is liberating, thanx!

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