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Don’t Cringe at Critiques… Eat Them for Breakfast

A couple of weeks ago I hosted a leadership webinar for a company in the Midwest. After the event we sent a survey to those who participated, asking them to freely share their thoughts on the experience. My excitement was high at the prospect of hearing their responses, but I was disappointed when a few of the respondents wrote some very strongly worded comments that were not particularly positive. The truth is, at their root, the critiques gave me a road map to improvement. This prompted me to consider the role of feedback in our lives and how important it is in our overall growth.

Earlier in my life, I might have ignored or obsessed over negative comments like those. As a writer, journalist and keynote speaker, a large amount of my career is spent presenting ideas—or myself—to others. And in the last few years, I’ve grown to realize that feedback is the breakfast of champions.

The very best people with whom I’ve worked in sports and business truly appreciate the opportunity to receive candid feedback. Then, when they have been granted some insight into the effectiveness of their abilities or strategy, they do something incredibly smart: They apply the advice and grow from it. In a world where most cringe at the thought of honest dialogue, the greats find in that feedback the seeds that will help them grow. I desired to take this lesson in my own life and use these anonymous critiques to help me get better. Working with the feedback from my survey, it took me less than three hours to improve the specific points in the program I delivered to that company. (And I wish they could see it again!)

A few days later, I was on my weekly call with Stephen Woessner, Internet marketing author, speaker and consultant. Stephen also happens to be my accountability partner. Two years ago we entered into a relationship where every Friday morning we talk and hold each other answerable for the growth we’d intended to make through the next week—professionally and personally. I shared with him how I had reacted with the negative feedback and how I’d used it to make myself better. There was a long pause on the line, and Stephen said, “That is a great lesson for me. When we get feedback, we have to do something with it.”

Stephen made the point that, often, professionals seek feedback from others but when we get it we don’t do anything with what was shared. In a sense, it goes in one ear and out the other. The greats realize that asking for feedback and not doing anything with it is worse than not seeking feedback at all. To make feedback the breakfast of champions, you have to seek it, devour it, then convert it into fuel. Otherwise the criticism, whether constructive or critical, is wasted.

If feedback is the breakfast of champions, what are you eating today? Are you seeking feedback from someone on your performance? Have you ever received some valuable feedback that impacted you in a meaningful way? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear your story!

Not getting any feedback? Find out how to give your own by harnessing the innate power of self-assessment.

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