I went rollerskating today. It’s one of my “flow” activities: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defined flow activity as being in the groove or “in the zone.” It’s when you’re so utterly absorbed in what you’re doing, that time passes without regard.
I’m skating and happy when an older gentleman gestures for me to come to him. I relent. I’ve seen this guy before, he’s a good skater. He looks like a slender Santa Claus – easily in his 70s. I’m curious.
“When you move forward, move your skates outward, not backward. Do you know why?”
I answer, “I’ll go faster?”
By now, I’m miffed that he’s telling me how to skate better when I’ve been skating for nearly 40 years. But I listen. I’m curious.
I consciously skate outward. It works!
“When you turn, bend your left leg. Lean into the turn. Don’t lift your right leg.”
This takes me a lot more focus. I realize I have a hard habit. But he’s right. My upper body is much more stable. It feels better.
My resentment is just a whisper now. But it’s there. He hangs back. I smile in appreciation.
He doesn’t try to talk to me for the duration of my skate. I focus on my newfound skills and realize…after 40 years of skating, I learned something new!
If I had gotten defensive and refused to listen, I would not have learned.
We need to be receptive in order to accept constructive criticism. And this receptivity is in our control.