The Power of Feedback
Feedback…something very few people seem to ask for, yet I believe is absolutely essential for individuals to grow, both personally and professionally. We all have our “sensitivities”. Aspects of ourselves that we don’t like, try to hide, or may not even see, that make us defensive when confronted. (BTW it’s what we “don’t” see that really bites us in the butt extra hard, but that’s a blog for another time) Each day, we are presented with the choice to put our true selves out there or hide behind our fears. As we grow older, after experiencing repeated rejection, hurt and criticisims, we become masters at hiding and protecting ourselves. We all have multiple strategies to numb ourselves. Busyness, alcohol, drugs, food, exercise, and anything that takes us away from the present moments. We become what we think others, or society want us to be. We have learned our lesson over and over again that it is just plain excruciating to be vulnerable! But when our true self goes into hiding, so does that joy and freedom we felt as children that “anything is possible”. We learn to shut off the very essence and joy of who we are. We quit taking risks because we are too afraid of failing, and all the backlash that comes with it – hurt, shame, anxiety, depression, addiction, to name a few…The devastating part in all of this, is that I believe each of us has our own individual gifts that we came into this world to use to serve this planet and make a positive difference. Its very tough to be an “individual” and much safer to fall in line behind everyone else. It’s tough to be out there standing alone.

One of my values is “courage”, which means I have made a commitment to be brave, in all situations. To say and do what needs to be said and done. To me, it is about making the choice everyday, to show up and be seen. To say that has not been easy, would be an understatement! Courage is like a muscle. Being brave can be developed and strengthened through daily practice. In reality, I fail at being brave all the time and that is why one of my daily, and well used mantras, which comes from the Benedictine Teachings for daily living, is: “you fall down, and you get back up, you fall down and you get back up, you fall down…” Winston Churchill said “Success is going from failure to failure with great enthusiasm.” You get my point. In being able to do this, we can counteract some of our own defensiveness by staying curious and proactively seeking feedback from people who have proven to be trustworthy. It is important to be discriminating about who we ask, or where we get feedback. People we admire, and with whom our experiences have proven that they sincerely have our best interest at heart. They will be honest with us, and without shame, give and process this feedback with us, and help us grow in positive and powerful directions. We are blessed if we have these people in our life who will show up for us, and are themselves out in the world making a positive difference. One of my favorite quotes that has always inspired me is by Theodore Roosevelt:

Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”
delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I am committed to being a person who is out in the “arena”, being brave enough to show up. I welcome advice from those “out in the arena” that are getting their butts kicked too. People who get knocked down and just keep getting up and going. Brene’ Brown, a University of Houston professor said it best: “…if you aren’t in the arena and also getting your arse kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback”. Amen! Thankfully, I am able to see and receive signs life is sending me showing me the capacity I have for a creating and having a great life. In my work, I coach people to be out on the court, and in my own professional and personal life, I am always seeking feedback from those who have the courage and commitment to be out on the court too. I will guarantee, that if you are playing full out in the arena, you will fail, over and over again. but I guarantee you will feel some peace on your deathbed knowing “it was a great life because I showed up and gave it my all”. What we put in, we get out. I saw an image for a gravestone once that said: “All used up.” That’s the kind of life I want to be living. The possibilities really are endless…