I’m sharing an email I got from my boss recently. In my last post about being awesome, I wrote that the risks we take are often better than not taking a risk at all. I made the note that perceived risk is often quite different than real risk. The risk of rejection or falling flat has personal weight because of the pride we take in our work but probably isn’t going to cause us to get a negative review or lose our jobs. If you go into a situation knowing there’s always room to improve and that there’s continual opportunity for learning then your expectations of yourself become comfortable and realistic. By allowing yourself to be vulnerable you’re more able to push yourself, adapt, and grow.
Of course, it helps to have management who’s willing to try new approaches and techniques. I’ve seen this as a trend and it’s really a way for an organization to evolve over time. His email follows the picture below.
Last week I read a quote that I wanted to share (but am just now getting around to sharing):
“It’s crucial to get feedback quickly, when it’s still useful, and keep iterating…Pain is temporary, suck is forever.”
– Michael B. Johnson, Lead Technical Supervisor, Pixar Animation Studios
I really like this insight and think it applies to us. Speaking for myself, I always try to remember ask for feedback. I often cringe inside as I wait for the response, but I ask. Recently, for example, I pulled out my very dusty presentation skills and delivered a 30 minute preso to setup the workshop that followed. Afterward I asked for feedback and was told that my pace was too slow and it felt like the presentation dragged on. I had no idea this was the case, but I really considered the feedback. A week later I delivered the same presentation to a different audience, this time focusing on keeping up the tempo per the feedback I had received. Again, afterward I asked for feedback and this time was told that the pace was really good and that I had the audience’s attention the whole time. While it was a bit of a letdown to hear that my first delivery wasn’t great, I like that I heard it and that I was able to improve for the next time. (Now on to the next thing I need to improve. 😉 )
Whatever we’ve got going on, it is never perfect. It is important to recognize this in order to keep improving. I think we all are at points in our careers where we are comfortable with ourselves and confident enough in our abilities to be open to requesting and receiving feedback, and I know we work in an environment where feedback is offered completely constructively (at all levels). We should take advantage of this as much as possible. We should share our pitches, presentations, demo flows, ideas, etc., with others and ask for their candid thoughts. We should have (I know I’m gong to lose some folks here) event dry-runs to work out kinks and get that live feedback so we can iterate and improve elements before we’re in front of the customer. And so on.
Remember, the pain of receiving constructive feedback is temporary, but the sucky result of not iterating to improve is forever. 🙂
Image attribution from Businessweek.