I deeply believe that feedback is the “breakfast of champions”.
So often, people shy away from giving genuine feedback because they are worried about offending someone or not being liked. I get it. I still fall into that trap too sometimes. When I was younger, I very rarely gave feedback if I thought it could be offensive to someone. The well-developed people-pleaser in me couldn’t think of anything worse than hurting someone’s feelings!
The thing about feedback, though, is it gives us the space to grow and expand in a very effective and resourceful way. If we don’t know that we are doing something, or we are unable to identify how we could do something better – would we like to know? I know I would (not that I would have answered that way 10 years ago!).
When I started my coaching journey six years ago, I didn’t appreciate the value of feedback. I also didn’t appreciate the value of stuffing up, getting it wrong, and sometimes looking like a complete dick. That sort of stuff was to be avoided at all costs!
I was so scared of being vulnerable!
I was so scared of getting it wrong!
My school years had conditioned me to not want to try something if I didn’t have the certainty that I could do it. In Years 2 and 3 I had started to fall behind in class. I didn’t learn the way my teachers taught me and I struggled with the pace at which the class moved. At the end of Year 3 my parents thought that I should repeat the year but the school said no, and I carried on into Year 4 with my classmates.
In Year 4 I was put in the special program – the only child in the class to be on the program – and was rewarded in front of the class when I completed each section of the program.
This was horrific for me!
My personality is all about connection, sameness, the tribe, fitting in, and I felt like such an outcast because of this. I started to make decisions about myself, about what I could and couldn’t do: getting it wrong was now associated with great pain.
One day later on in that year, I had come home and was telling Mum about a new activity that was being offered to the Year 4s. She asked me if I was going to join in and I said “No, I won’t be able to do it, I am not good enough”. It was after that experience that my parents made the decision to move me to another school.
I moved to a beautiful little local school and by mid-Year 5, I was completely back up to speed and on my way. The thing is, though, I had already made unconscious decisions about myself and my abilities and I had an real fear of getting things wrong. Feedback was a very scary thing for me – I didn’t view it as a growth opportunity but instead saw it as me not being good enough.
Just the other day I was with my very dear friend Songy Knox and we were talking about my blog. Songy is a woman with a huge amount of talent and I explicitly trust her wisdom, knowledge and opinions. Because of this, I asked her for some feedback on my blog.
Songy praised me for my consistency in writing each week and said that there is a lot of great information in my blogs. Then she asked me if she could be honest.
“Of course, I want to know how I can improve and do things better”.
“Your blogs are bland. I can’t see you in them. You drop a small line about yourself then dash on to talk about the next point. I want to know who you are!” Songy said.
“But if I talk about myself I will look like a plonker!” I replied.
“No you won’t, you’re just playing it safe. That’s what I mean by bland. I know you have strong opinions and some of them may cause offence but who cares?! Isn’t it better to be authentic and let people see who you are (and maybe offend some people) than to play it safe and miss the ones you want to reach?”.
Boom! There it was!
I didn’t want to get in to trouble. I didn’t want to offend someone and I certainly didn’t want to get it wrong.
This feedback was so POWERFUL for me for several reasons.
Firstly, I didn’t even realise that my old pattern was playing out here in this blog. I have done tonnes of work on myself over the course of my life and I didn’t even identify that the old pattern had popped up here. This is actually not surprising as this is a new venture for me: I don’t yet understand the lay of the blogging land, and I am still operating with limited knowledge.
Secondly, I am writing this blog every week because I am building a coaching business and I want people to experience me, yet I am so busy “playing it safe” that the true me has not yet shone bright. Duh!!!
Thirdly, I know how much Songy loves and cares for me to speak honestly and frankly with my very best interests at heart. I am beyond blessed to have her in my life and on my team.
So: Feedback – Go get some! I entreat you!
Pick an area of your life where you want to experience more success or growth and then go and ask someone some great questions. Ask your boss, your friends, or your partner and ask them to be honest. It’s easy to give “nice” feedback, but that’s not where growth and excellence reside.
Remember, feedback is the breakfast of champions!