If you have been following The Inspiration Nation Weblog recently, it probably goes without saying that I am pro-The Secret. I thought the movie was great (even with its flaws), primarily because it opened up for people the possibility of taking control of their lives rather than being a victim of it.
Recently, I read a criticism of The Secret by the acclaimed author of Blogwild!: A Guide for Small Business Blogging (If you are or aspire to be a blogger, go read this book! It’s a must-read.), Andy Wibbels. I highly respect Andy for being unabashedly "Andy" — bold, unique, and a generous giver of content and value both to his clients and to the world. He freely shares his knowledge and his wisdom. His association with the likes of Michael Port, Andrea J. Lee, and others adds to his stature in my eyes.
This is why it was surprising to me — not his criticism of The Secret per se (I myself would have preferred that it was more substantive in some areas and less simplistic in other areas) — but that his analysis was so poor. Indeed, it appeared that he comments were knee-jerk reactions rather than sound, reasoned arguments.
That is why I was further surprised that, when Andy began to promote his 30-Day-Does-The-Secret-Work-Or-Not Challenge — capitalizing on the controversy his comments engendered (Andy himself calls his comments "a rant") — that Andrea J. Lee promoted it on her blog. Since Andy is one of Andrea’s Multiple Streams Associate Coaches, it is natural she would report on what Andy is doing. It’s quite another thing to actually promote it.
Why was this surprising?
Well, when you promote someone or something, the assumption is you agree with it.
In my experience, Andrea is never "knee-jerk" in her analysis. Though she often offers think-outside-the-box concepts that some might consider radical or against the grain (Andrea, who is a coach, is not afraid to speak out in criticism of the coaching industry itself), they are always offered in the spirit of love and always after thought and consideration.
This is why it appeared to me that actually promoting Andy’s anti-secret challenge was incoherent or "off-message" with Andrea’s heretofore theme of creating "Money AND Meaning," where a spiritual approach to business takes center stage.
A wonderful example of Andrea’s line of reasoning is her response when I asked her why she "seem[ed] to be promoting (rather than simply reporting on) Andy’s experiment." At the same time, however, it should be noted that Andrea doesn’t actually answer the question I asked her.
What she does do is turn the question around through a series of other questions designed to get me and other readers to take an honest look at ourselves and our reactions to Andy’s comments. They are an excellent example of great coaching, because what is happening in our lives and how we perceive things (and other people) is always about us, not them.
I invite you to read Andrea’s series of questions. They are very valuable questions that we can adapt and ask ourselves any time we react negatively (or positively, for that matter) to the ideas, comments, or reactions of others or to life situations.
While I think constructive criticism (the key word being "constructive") is always beneficial and even inspirational (I hope indeed that this criticism of Andy and of Andrea is seen in this light and in the spirit of love and admiration), I also believe that our moral obligation is to honor others who are trying like ourselves to uplift and bring joy and awareness to the world.
None of us are perfect, and offering unexamined and knee jerk responses (especially if we are in a position of authority or have expert status) inspires no one.
It’s not about "doubting the doubters." Criticism is good, and should be encouraged and welcomed. Instead, it’s about (especially as the spiritual coaches that we are) integrity, honor, respect, and arguments that are sound rather than reactionary.
Let me ask you, what do you think?
How do you offer informed criticism in the spirit of love and inspiration? How do you accept critism given to you in that same spirit?