Feedback - can't live with it, can't live without it.

What exactly is feedback? According to the dictionary, it’s a noun that (amongst many explanations) is an opinion foremost; information or statements of opinion about something (such as a new product) that can tell you if it is successful or liked.  
There’s a time and a place for feedback. If you want to understand your customer, and what they are looking for so you can bring new products or services to market (or make existing ones better) – then feedback is your answer.

If you’re after feedback on your work to validate whether it’s good or bad, then that’s definitely a very different thing.

The thing about feedback, is that you usually only ask about for it if you are not confident in the decision. Because if you were, then you probably wouldn’t be asking for feedback.

You might be questioning this. Perhaps you are thinking – No, I ask for feedback because I just want to confirm that I’m on the right track.  But doesn’t that imply a level of uncertainty in the outcome?

Or even, that you are looking for feedback because you want a consensus from a group. Sorry, but it’s the same thing. That’s just spreading the load amongst many to make a decision.

Last week, I wrote a piece of work. It was my third try writing for this purpose, and each time I had gotten feedback that perhaps the work wasn’t strong enough for the intended use. This time, I thought I was on a sure thing. I felt good writing it, and had had someone else look it over. They gave me FEEDBACK, and I made a few changes because of it. Which I thought made the piece stronger.

It didn’t.

According to the person I shared it with for final feedback, it was soft and needed some depth, which was the same feedback I’d been getting for all my previous articles.

My reaction? At first I was hurt that my work had been rejected. AGAIN. That’s ego talking right there. Then right on the tails of hurt was feelings of inadequacy, of not being good enough. I gave myself a pep talk on how to get back up and try again.
 Isn’t it interesting that although feedback is only an opinion, we use it as a reason for being; as a way of making excuses for not being able to make our own decisions.

I’ve read so many articles that talk about how important feedback is for improvement. But why do we (actually, me) automatically assume that it has to come from a place of something not being good enough, and needing to be better? Why can’t it just be that it’s ok as it is, and there is an opportunity to keep the momentum by making it just more better than what it currently is.

I was uncomfortable with the whole situation, and when I mulled it over and gave it a lot of thought, I realised that I had been incredibly selfish in my expectation that the other person validate my own opinion of the work.

Plus – and this is a big one – I was scared that maybe people might not find me good enough, or smart enough. That perhaps I might be ridiculed. So I wanted someone to tell me YES – its good!

Of course they had a different opinion! Everyone thinks differently, everyone writes differently, everyone has different life experiences which will influence their outlook. So of course they would have written the article differently to me, and had a different opinion to the work than mine.

I know I’m focused a lot on the article, but this is really a metaphor for life. We are so linear, thinking of everything in black & white, good & bad. This is so subjective, just like how each person will write differently. What someone told me is that it is just what it is – not good, not bad. Feedback is only an opinion that can serve to keep you progressing on a path of momentum. It shouldn’t ever be about being competitive, or perfection, or considering something to not be good enough. Because everything is already good enough. It can only keep moving.

So next time you are hurt by feedback not being in line with your own thinking, perhaps it’s because you are not feeling confident enough to step up and back yourself for whatever it is you are doing. Why not try saying to yourself – it’s ok, this article is right for this moment in time, and by writing and publishing it, then I will continue to improve on and develop with each new one I write. And that’s ok.

Why am I scared of being thought not good enough?

Just a thought – I am a perfectionist on top of this. Or should I say, in addition to this. So no, I still haven’t published the piece of work because I think it could be better. But now I’ve been able to recognise that it’s got nothing to do with the feedback, it’s because I’m frightened of what people will think. Will it be good enough, am I going to be able to hold my own with those super talented people out there that are writing too? That’s when a bit of self-love can come into play, and a gentle reminder that you are good enough, and whatever you do is enough, and right.

So stop putting other people in the position of having to make your decisions for you. Try and trust your instinct and just run with it. What’s the worst that can happen? If people love your work – bonus! If they don’t, that’s ok too. Try not to be fixated on the outcome – just get in the practice of putting it out there for no other reason than it was what you were meant to do and it’s a lesson in self-improvement.

Equally – ask for feedback and welcome people’s opinions. Just be honest with yourself about why you are asking. And get ready for the answer - it may not always be what you are expecting, but if you’ve asked for it, then be open to what comes back to you.

Wish me luck, I’ve still got to publish that article. Laurel


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