The Eiffel Tower: iconic monument and critical lesson


We went to visit the Eiffel Tower again — our fourth visit in five years. What do you know about the Eiffel Tower?

When it was built, it was, to say the least, the most controversial structure of all time. Hundreds protested it, criticized it, campaigned against it, said it was a disgrace to architecture and predicted it would be the ruination of Paris.

The story is fascinating. You can read about its history on Wikipedia, where I learned: “Some of the protestors eventually changed their minds when the tower was built. Others remained unconvinced. Guy de Maupassant supposedly ate lunch in the Tower's restaurant every day. When asked why, he answered that it was the one place in Paris where one could not see the structure.”

Epilog: The tower was built to world acclaim. It’s one of the most impressive structures in the universe. It’s not just stunning to look at; it’s also inspiring to be in its presence. An estimated 10 million visitors a year visit to admire its glory. It is the heart and soul of Paris, and it’s the symbol by which the city has been known for more than 100 years.

At the base there’s an amazing statue to honor Gustave Eiffel. Interesting to note that none of the people who criticized him have statues at the base.

How much more wrong could the protesters and critics have been?

Were they trying to build up or tear down? Encourage or discourage? Encourage or disparage?

In hindsight, the critics seem contrite, shallow, self-serving, prejudiced and baseless — kind of like today’s critics.

Call it what you will, a naysayer by any other name is just that.

• Is it an opposing point of view, or a criticism?

• Is it a “pundit,” or a critic?

• Is it “commentary,” or just criticism?

• Is it an op-ed column, or criticism?

• Is it a “panel discussion,” or criticism?

And what are these people really saying?

• Are they debating, or discussing and deciding?

• Are they blaming “it” or “them,” or are they offering answers and taking responsibility for the remedy?

• Do they talk about what they will do, or what someone else didn’t do?

• Do they talk about what didn’t happen, who’s wrong and why it won’t work, or are they offering their ideas about what could be?

Do these critics (pundits) ever offer answers, ideas, or recommendations?

Critics try to label the “wrong-doers” into a group for easier identification: unions, teachers, liberals, conservatives, left, right, or in your familiar terms: the competition or the purchasing department.

Think about it: It’s never everyone, is it?

And of course, today’s world paints criticism as some sort of pious, politically correct and necessary element of society.

Reality: People criticize to suit themselves, further their agenda, or even make the sale.

In the late 1800s, Finnish composer Jean Sibelius said, “Pay no attention to people who criticize. No statue was ever erected to a critic.” And in the late 1960s, the great Glenn W. Turner added, “But the people they have criticized, many statues have gone up.”

Makes me stop and think. I hope it does the same for you.

Got statue? Or are you just criticizing?

How much of your time is wasted criticizing other people, their ideas, or their thoughts? And how could you be investing that time to build your own monument, your own Eiffel Tower?

Your real job: Convert your criticism to answers, resolve, solutions and responsibility. You’ll be thought of as a thinker, make more sales, build stronger relationships, earn a better reputation, be seen as a resource and be a happier person.

Dale Carnegie, author of the 70-year bestseller “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” nailed it in 1915 when he penned his most dominant principle: “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain (and most fools do).”

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