I'm not actually sure that the black and white space dust we used to see on the old TV screens is technically considered "feedback," but I'm not sure it's not either. I amsure that over the past year I have experienced far more blessings than setbacks and as each blessing jumped in the cab of the 1987 Plymouth Voyager van that is my life, complacency and ego have called a seemingly more permanent dibs on shotgun. I've realized that by encountering success, I have somehow convinced myself I don't need to continue to work and grow. The most obvious implication of this has been my inability to accept feedbackfrom others. This is a problem and as the great Shane Jacques once said, "WHOOP THAT PROBLEM IN THE BEHIND SONNY!"
If you are my friend on Facebook *cough cough old people* you'll know from my last post that throughout the month of July I'm taking part in the #DoThirty challenge. To learn all about it just click here. If you're more hip, I also posted about it on Twitter on Instagram. To recap, I will be writing eight blog posts throughout July and asking all of you for one of three responses:
Donate to Edge Mentoring, the non-profit organization I've partnered with throughout this challenge.Give me feedback on my writing. Whether that be positive, constructive or conversational, I can't get better at receiving feedback if I don't get any.Send me something of yours to give you feedback on so we can grow together.
The start of this post was simply the precursor. The rest is going to elaborate on feedback as a concept relative to personal growth and why I'm dedicating an entire month of my life to getting better at it.
If you don't want to hear it, you probably should.
This realization is what motivated me to choose this aspect of personal growth for my #DoThirty challenge. But it was something that happened just the other day that made me commit.
I was in Michigan facilitating a leadership conference for their State FFA Officers. After I wrapped up the last day and was heading towards the airport, I asked their state staff if he had any feedback for me. To be honest, when I asked I did so hoping he would be impressed that I asked, not actually wanting feedback. After thinking for just a moment he paused and with tact said, "Well, there is one thing. I really wish you wouldn't have told our officers you didn't go into teaching because of the low salary. You hold a great deal of influence with these young people and should never deter them from going into teaching, especially because of the money." I was flabbergasted. Both my parents are teachers. The food that fueled my childhood, the roof over my head, the bed I rested on, all products of a teachers salary. I would never mean to dissuade someone from pursuing teaching. Yet, I had. As I sat on the plane back to Tennessee with my thoughts and Biscoff cookies, I realized I had probably had the same conversation with multiple other groups of young people. As the ding signaled we could finally take our seatbelts off and grab our carryons, it hit me. If I had never sought out that feedback, regardless of whether or not I wanted to hear it in the first place, I would have kept having that conversation without ever realizing the implications of my actions.
The next weekend I was able to put Mr. Wyrick's feedback into play. I facilitated another conference in Wyoming and this time when asked why I didn't go into teaching despite having a degree in Agricultural Education, I had a very different answer. There are so many benefits to seeking feedback, but unfortunately it's not a common practice for most people. This topic is covered in depth on one of my favorite podcasts, The Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast and I would highly encourage you to check it out. If you don't have the time, here are two realities I've come to terms with through hearing other people's teaching on the topic that have encouraged my growth in the area of receiving feedback:
People are going to give us feedback whether we like it or not, so we may as well be eager to receive it.
All of our lives we have been judged, graded, ranked, picked, left out and evaluated. Just because we're out of high school doesn't mean that ends. As we navigate a world where feedback can sometimes seem out of the blue, unwarranted and unwanted we have to evaluate why it falls under that category. Instead of shunning an opinion simply because it wasn't asked for, instead ask yourself, "Why didn't I seek that out? What value can I find in that?" You'll be shocked at just how useful feedback can be... if you ask for it.
We cannot grow knowing only what we know.
No matter how talented, hard working, punctual (it's important okay), good looking, funny, athletic or Greek god-esque you are, there will always be a limit to the amount you can grow and improve without accepting feedback from others. One of my favorite part of every book I read is the acknowledgement section. Some authors even go as far as posting on their websites early versions of the book so readers can see just how important their editors were in constructing the final version of the story. JK Rowling even created an entire page on her website dedicated to those who helped her craft Harry Potter. She realized the importance of getting outside of her own abilities and seeking out criticism on something as delicate and impassioned as the most important work of her life.
The benefits can be worded and phrased a thousand different ways, but ultimately one's ability to accomplish their goals, improve themselves or make the world around them better is directly tied to their ability to receive and implement feedback.
Thanks for reading, readers. If you made it this far I just ask that you do one last thing (or all three if you're feeling ambitious).
Donate to Edge Mentoring, the non-profit organization I've partnered with throughout this challenge. You can do that here. Give me feedback on my writing. Whether that be positive, constructive or conversational, I can't get better at receiving feedback if I don't get any. Feel free to call/text/comment/share. Any response is a form of a feedback.Send me something of yours to firstname.lastname@example.org to give you feedback on so we can grow together.
Lastly, enjoy this dumb video I made with my buddy Brian during our year as National FFA Officers on the topic of feedback.