Howling at the Moon: One Way to Handle Criticism

It can be tough to handle criticism.  As leaders we need to be open and ready to listen to the good, the bad, and the ugly.

How we respond to that criticism after listening can take many forms.

The story is told of a man out walking with Abraham Lincoln one day.

The friend spoke to him about anti-Lincoln sentiment that was growing in Washington and around the country.

He related several stories about attacks on Lincoln and his policies.  He spared no details about the harshness of the criticism.

Throughout his talk, Lincoln remained completely silent, seemingly lost in his own thoughts.

Exasperated by his lack of response, the man finally asked, “Mr. Lincoln, have you heard me?  Are you listening to me?”

Lincoln replied that yes, he had heard.  Then said, “Let me tell you a story.”

“You know that during the time of the full moon it is the habit of all the dogs to come out at night and bark and bark and bark at the moon. This keeps on as long as the moon is clearly visible in the sky.”

Lincoln stopped speaking. The man waited until he couldn’t stand it, then asked for the rest of the story.

Lincoln said, “There is nothing more to tell. The moon keeps right on shining.”

How Do You Handle Criticism?

If you are sure of your vision;

If you are living by your values;

If you are leading humbly;

If you are helping people;

Then be like the moon in orbit, quietly going about its business,

Undeterred by the howling of dogs.

Lead on!