Responding to Criticism

Teddy Roosevelt (Source: Library of Congress; no known restrictions)
Teddy Roosevelt. (Source: Library of Congress; no known restrictions)

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” (Emphasis added.)

          – President Theodore Roosevelt

One clear truth of the Internet is that it has become the breeding ground of criticism. The “arena” of advocacy for America to become a true spacefaring nation is not immune to criticism, nor should it be. But that does not mean that criticism should be ignored.

A productive response to criticism

  • Ask questions to seek clarification of the criticism; especially to expand general criticism into more specific statements that can be addressed individually.
  • Gain an understanding of the critic’s knowledge of the topic so that the response to the criticism can be framed in an understandable manner.
  • Gain an understanding of the critic’s circumstances to help assess the true purpose of the criticism.
  • Explain rationale and facts that may not be known to the critic.
  • Seek out additional information to respond positively to criticism.
  • Adapt the plan or proposal to respond to valid criticism.
  • Ignore invalid criticism and continue to push toward the objective.

Response to thinking differently about America’s future in space

Different outcomes in space will require significantly different thinking about what needs to be accomplished and how this can be achieved. Necessarily, this involves advocacy of new approaches for American space enterprises. Criticism to these “thinking differently” proposals will arise. Following Theodore Roosevelt’s thinking, progress in becoming a true commercial human spacefaring nation will not flow from the critic, but from the advocate. A spacefaring future for America will only come from “daring greatly.”