Epictetus (55-135 CE) Enchiridion
A manual for living a contented life
Rendered by Charles Scamahorn (1935- ) 2014
When you have decided a thing needs doing, and the time is right for doing it, go ahead and proceed to do the work. Don’t bother yourself with uninvolved people’s suggestions as to how you might do it better, or of those condemning the quality of your workmanship. If you can’t do the job correctly don’t start it, but if it is within your abilities, do a competent job, and ignore those who disparage you.
Last night the standup comic Louis C.K. was being interviewed by David Letterman, and Louis had just sold out three consecutive nights to an audience of some five thousand people, at New York’s Madison Square Garden. He was talking to Letterman about the problems of being a comic, and how even a terrifically successful one, such as himself, would still look out at the audience and see many people looking unimpressed and unhappy. That problem bothered him, and David too, but they had resigned themselves to enduring this negative feedback, and always proceeded with their shows. The problem, both of these successful comics admitted, was that it was difficult not to look at those emotional wet-blankets, and at the same time stay enthusiastic. This modern example gives support to what, at first reading, makes Epictetus’s suggestion about coping with criticism by ignoring the critics seem uncharacteristically harsh.