Compliments, Constructive Criticism, and Silence

I recently read the GREAT autobiography on Pat Summitt called Sum It Up.  I would recommend this book to anyone in a leadership or coaching position, as well as a parent.  This book details her amazing journey growing up as a farm kid in rural Tennessee to starting her college playing and coaching career as Title IX was coming to the forefront.  She succeeded by any measure and overcame tremendous personal setbacks to reach the pinnacle of her profession.  In recent years, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and had to relinquish her coaching position at the height of her powers.

I knew she was a demanding coach, but this book really inspired me to work harder and demand more of myself and people I work with.  Her ability to get her players to become physically and mentally tough, be fundamentally outstanding, overcome odds, and use their gifts to blend into outstanding teams is at a rare level.

Her demanding style is referenced throughout the book, but a specific tactic that I want to implement soon hit me like a hammer.  She was referencing a time in her career when she felt her players were only hearing her criticisms, and not her compliments.  To get her players to hear both equally, she instructed everyone in the program, when receiving a compliment, to say “two points”.  This acknowledgement of receiving the compliment made the impact greater.  When receiving a criticism, the recipient was to say “rebound”.  This served to demonstrate the recipient heard the criticism, and was going to try to bounce back, i.e. rebound, to take action to correct the issue.

Regardless of where we are in life, I haven’t found a person yet who can honestly say they give and take constructive criticism as well as they would like. Some people only want to hear compliments.  Some people only want to hear how they can improve.  Some people  don’t want to be “bothered” with anything at all.

It is a special talent to be able to give valuable criticism, and perhaps even more so to be able to take criticism from others without getting defensive.  I personally struggle this one the most, especially with my wife.  I am working everyday to develop the toughness to improve in this area.

I would love to hear your comments in any of these topics today.  Take care.

Warmest Regards,



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