How to Avoid Criticism: Say Nothing, Do Nothing, Be Nothing

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”  

This was not actually said by Aristotle, as the Internet might have us believe.

In fact the Internet wants us to think that Aristotle said a lot of things.  Which he did.  But not that.

In fact, ‘nobody’ actually said that… at least not precisely that.

What was (probably) actually said was this:

“Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing, and you’ll never be criticized.”

..and the person who (probably) said it was Elbert Hubbard, an author and Arts and Crafts Movement enthusiast.

Personally, I like how the faux-Aristotelian version flips the verse and has the “be nothing” as a punchline.

Another version:  “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing and be nothing.”

..or how about this gerund-laden version, with a more accurate source note:

“Criticism is something you can avoid easily — by saying nothing, by doing nothing, and being nothing.”  

– adapted from Elbert Hubbard

I’m sticking to that one.

Go ahead and criticize the lack of accuracy in the quotation.

I dare you.

I appreciate the positive intent of wanting to get things right… and I also know that in order to innovate and grow, one needs to initiate some change, some adaptation… and inevitability, this will upset the more relentless and punctilious critics.

..or as Aristotle might have said, if he were here today using the Internet: “μετάφραση είναι αναπόφευκτη”


About danspira

My blog is at: My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on July 29, 2013, in Information Design, Leadership, Learning, Life, Positivity, Productivity, Risk Management, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I love this quote, and the way your wrote about it here. I was looking for something inspirational for my students, and this came up. I think students need to hear more things like this.

  1. Pingback: Tooth Of The Day – allaboutlemon-All Around, In, And Out Of My Own Universe

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