Seek out feedback (Amity culture)

Bramble looked into the multiple holes in the ground. He knew he had lost his favourite ball in one of those holes. He really wanted it. He had missed it dearly. However, he also smelt badger. He knew there was a grumpy badger that lived here. As much as he wanted his ball, he did not want to get bitten or swiped by poking his nose (literally) into places where he should not be. Unfortunately, there was no blinking light or sign to indicate which hole should he poke his nose in first.

He tentatively walked up to a hole and sniffed. A bit of rabbit could be smelt. No ball. The next hole smelt of rain and no ball. The next one smelt a bit strange, a strong pong could be whiffed and a rustling could be heard. Suddenly, a growl and five long claws swiped out. Bramble jammed his feet and reversed in manic. He had just missed the claws! Phew! Not this hole! He sniffed a few holes beside that one and a familiar whiff entered his nostrils, now slightly flaring with the excitement he just experienced. Lo and behold, his red ball was found! He grabbed it and ran back to the field where there were no badgers, elated and ecstatic with his find! Bramble had to learn from each experience before reaching his desired goal.

In your daily undertakings, do you like to excel in what you do? Are you at a stage where you are at the top of your game? Or maybe you are just starting out, learning a new language, starting a new job, or exploring a new relationship? Perhaps you have been doing it for some time, you know you are not a novice but you realise you are not a master either. It is somewhere in between. Regardless of the stage you are in, the fastest way to improve is to actively seek out feedback. It requires great humility and adopting the mindset of an eternal student. It is getting ready for learning about what you have done may be wrong or could be improved. It is about stepping out of your ego that needs to be right and embracing the part of you that wants to learn and improve.

If you report to a supervisor, it becomes an extremely empowering tool for both parties. Usually, when you have completed a project, especially when it was done with great effort and a huge amount of blood, sweat, and tears had been put into it, it is not uncommon to be incredibly proud of your accomplishment (and rightfully, you should!). It is even harder for your supervisor to give any points of improvement (some call it criticism) when she sees how pleased you are. Nobody likes to disappoint another if they can help it! So, she has two choices. Firstly, just keep quiet and congratulate you on a job well done (though it could be improved). Or she could tell you how to improve (as she may be more experienced and actually knows better) and risk, despite her best efforts, to dampen your mood. The first option does not help anyone, not herself as she is receiving an inferior result and certainly not you, as you do not learn anything and actually think what you have done is the best that is possible which is not true. The second option, while it may achieve a better result, may result in unpleasant feelings as an outcome as you were not expecting any criticism on the fine project you have done.

Now, let’s explore what it would look like if you had actively sought out feedback. After doing your best to complete your project, you present it to your supervisor and before she can say anything, you actively seek her feedback by asking, “What do you think? Please tell me what else can I improve on this or is this the absolute best that you know of and I can do?” By asking these simple and powerful questions, you immediately achieve two things. One, it puts you in a great receiving mode for feedback. You have checked your ego and expect your work to be inspected and constructively criticised which will allow you to grow and learn more. If there are improvements to be made, they can be made resulting in you finishing with better work. If there was none, you would have exercised humility and gained more self-respect in the process. Two, it sets your supervisor up for being able to contribute with her feedback without feeling bad or ‘trying not to say the wrong thing’ in fear of upsetting you as you have given her permission to do so. You would have implied to her, “I am someone who can and want to learn. You are doing me a favour with your feedback. Don’t hold back!” Not only will it make her job easier (which she will thank you for), it will also set you apart from others who do not do that to improve your trust and goodwill in her that may lead to bigger things.

This can be applied in all aspects of your life, be it in your personal relationships, with your children, friends, financial, spiritual, and certainly, in the pursuit of anything worthy in your life. The only catch is to be clear who are you asking for feedback from. That person(s) should have the credibility to be in the position to give you feedback. Empty vessels make the most noise. Seeking feedback from the wrong company may not only be a waste of time but the feedback received may not be relevant, sometimes even harmful. For example, in business, seeking feedback from your friends and family is never as useful as the feedback from your direct customers, especially from your raving fans.

Learn how to stay humble. Remember that you do not know what you do not know. Adopt the mindset of an eternal student. A true master knows to keep his cup empty and allow the right people to fill it up when needed. Help those whom you care about to help you by actively seeking out feedback. The world is a university and lessons are plentiful if you are ready and open for them. You can be more open and ready to receive by actively seeking out feedback.

Bramble found his ball by seeking feedback from his environment. Would you be able to improve your life by actively seeking out feedback?

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard

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