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It rings in my head like a mantra, over and over again: “Feedback is the breakfast of Champions.” One of Eric McGrath’s, from Driven For Life, notable quotes. But what does it really mean? If I constantly ask for feedback, along with it comes rejection, failure, insecurity. I have enough of that. I don’t need it for breakfast.

Then again, why do we assume feedback is negative? If we spend our lives creating our own highlight reel, what does it look like?  I am a social media content manager. Admittedly, that job title didn’t exist 10 years ago, maybe even 5 years ago. But companies, individuals and “celebrities” now need content managers so you and I can view their #LivingOurBestLife. We get to see who they’re with, what they do, where they go and it seems, most importantly, what they eat. We also get political, religious and social opinions plus weddings, over-the-top engagements, and new babies.

At its very core, we now have a voyeuristic view into each other’s lives. So, what does that have to do with feedback? Nothing really.

To the “world” we present our ideal life. The food looks great, the vacation looks amazing, the marriage is solid, the business is booming. Life is amazing – all day, every day.

But on the inside, behind closed doors, when you pull back the curtain – is it great? Good? Fair? Maybe you doubt you are adding value to the world, or guidance to your family, or impact to your business. For that matter, are you even sure you are in the right career or your business is on the right trajectory? Or maybe everything really is great, but it can always, always get better.

It is natural to want to know how we are doing, how we add value. But it can be overwhelming to ask for feedback. Asking for someone’s opinion or evaluation of you and your work can create anxiety, but it’s an essential part of career development. And, if the feedback is always positive, where does growth come from? We all have room to grow – in our leadership, communication, presentation, responses…

So when do we ask for feedback?

  1. The obvious. If your company has an annual review process, that’s the time. If your company doesn’t have a formal process, every 3-4 months ask for a meeting.
  2. Before an important meeting, presentation, or project. This is a great time to get feedback to hone your skills. And, always seek feedback after an important event. It’s the perfect time to take a step back, get other’s thoughts, and see what they saw.
  3. A healthy work culture includes ongoing, day to day feedback. Ongoing feedback creates opportunity to grow in skill and career.

Who do you ask for Feedback?

Uh, no not just your best friend. It’s important to make sure feedback is well rounded. Approach all sorts of people. Speak to your boss, coworkers, engage with clients, friends, associates and, yes, even your spouse. Always have those one or two people who you can deem “wise counsel.” The straight shooters who will tell truth regardless of whether it’s what you want to hear.

How to Ask for Feedback.

When asking for feedback, the standard, “How am I doing?” will generally result in a one-word answer. Instead, specifically ask for the good and bad. What did you do well and where can you improve? To get a clear understanding, ask open-ended questions – who, what, where and why.

When Feedback comes.

For feedback to be beneficial, the receiver must be open-minded and accept the feedback graciously. Listen intently. Don’t justify, explain or argue. A simple thank you works well. We don’t have to agree with the feedback, but we do have to react well to it.

Perceived Negative Feedback.

We all know, rejection is painful. Negative, or less than positive, feedback is usually not meant to be hurtful. However, based on negative feedback many people will stop taking risks altogether, feeling like their efforts are wasted and their goals unachievable. Many times, we just need to see things differently. By changing our perspective, we can change our relationship with rejection.

1. Roll with it

One of the better tools we can learn is making distinctions between emotions. Understanding what and why we are feeling a certain way helps us discern and process our emotions. Quicker understanding of our emotions makes us more resilient and in turn, gives us the ability to gather data and avoid the knee-jerk reaction. Instead of perceived rejection, we can recognize the data as constructive and valuable.

2. Write it out

Never underestimate the value of journaling. When feedback comes in, good or bad, write it out. We can then go back later and read it again. We can add to, expand on and flesh out what it really means – including whether we find it valuable or not. Additionally, keep a “compliments or affirmation file.” Anytime you receive positive feedback, note it in your file. This list will keep you motivated if you feel a slump coming on.

By changing our perspective, we can change our relationship with rejection. We can see a no as an opportunity to fail forward and eventually get a yes from an even better source. Rejection can become a good indicator of the number of risks we take in life. We build up our rejection muscles, and in turn, rejection rewards us by making us more motivated, engaged and resilient.

Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions!

This we know – without feedback, we never grow. Without feedback, we can lull away in that false sense of an ideal life … everything facebook perfect. To grow, to excel, to achieve we need input from others.

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