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How do you respond to criticism?


Let’s just imagine for a moment that you’re one of the best young athletes in the world. You make millions of dollars and tens of thousands of people go nuts when you step on the field.

But it’s not all sunshine. Your team, which was leading the league halfway through the season, fell apart in the home stretch. And there, on television, a legendary former player is telling the world that you haven’t fulfilled your potential, that you’re overrated.

How would you respond?

It was impressive to hear how England’s next big thing, Jack Wilshere, responded to this very criticism from the legend Paul Scholes. On a television broadcast in March, Scholes unleashed a scathing criticism of Wilshere. Scholes felt Wilshere wasn’t developing and was failing to fulfill his potential.

Wilshere’s response was remarkable. He didn’t reply with some angry outburst on Twitter. Instead, he called Paul Scholes and asked him to explain how he thought Wilshere could get better. Wilshere saw it as an opportunity to learn.

Here’s how it went down. Upon hearing Scholes’ criticism, Wilshere asked another former great player, Gary Neville, via Twitter for Scholes’s phone number. Along with the number, Neville replied, “Go easy on [Scholes],” assuming Wilshere was about to go ballistic. Meanwhile, the breathless headlines in the UK said things like, “Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere: Day I rang Paul Scholes to argue over his TV dig” — which was far from the truth, at least by Wilshere’s telling.

Instead, Wilshere saw this as a unique opportunity to learn. Here’s what he said: “We had quite a good chat. [Scholes] is entitled to his opinion, I just wanted to know…It came from Paul Scholes! So I wanted to get to the bottom of it. I spoke to him, he explained it a bit better and told me what he thought I should work on.”

Impressive. Just as Wilshere learned from Scholes, so too can we all learn from Wilshere.

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