Tuesday, February 05, 2013
An Improver Vs. A Gadfly
Don't make it your ambition to be an organizational gadfly! Gadflys zip around, looking for places to land so they can bite or sting. I remember an outdoor pool at a farmhouse where we once stayed for vacation when I was a kid. It was right next to a horse pasture, and when the horses were grazing nearby, these horrible looking, hairy black horse-flies would try to land on us and bite us. We had to duck underneath the water to avoid them. That's the gadfly -- the chronic critic. People duck to get away from you, if they see you coming. People who are bright and analytic can be tempted to become gadflys, because they can see problems before other people do, or at least verbalize the complaints that others just dully feel. This is a pride trap, because you can make yourself feel like you're really something by constantly catching other people in their foibles. Gadflys seldom have a well-thought-out plan for positive reform. They just sting away at the faults of others, and make themselves feel smarter because they point their fingers better. Criticism, not as an emotional attribute but as a function of reason, is a necessary part of clear thinking. If we can't compare and contrast between bad, good, better, and best, nothing improves. But criticizing simply because it delights us is a strange, offensive form of self-indulgence.