Feedback Is Key To Success
One of the keys to success is seeking out and accepting feedback.
There is always that person who has no idea of how others perceive them. Their manner and behavior can be annoying at best, and downright rude and abrasive at worst. What we don’t know about how others see us can be a barrier to success. Without feedback, it is hard to know what is helping us succeed or hindering our success.
The first step to gaining feedback is to empty your cup.
Gaining Feedback Begins With an Open Mind
The famed martial artist, Bruce Lee, had a great desire to be trained by a local Master. Bruce had an extensive background in martial arts training, with significant fight experience. He approached the Master, and after making the customary bows, asked him to become his teacher.
Bruce then talked about his experience in the martial arts world and rambled on and on about how many fights he had won.
The Master listened to him patiently and then made some tea. When it was ready, he placed a cup in front of Bruce and poured the tea.
As Bruce continued to talk, he watched the master pour tea into the cup. The cup slowly filled with tea, but the master didn’t stop pouring. The cup overflowed onto the saucer, then onto the table, and finally onto the floor. While trying to be respectful, Bruce watched until he couldn’t hold it in any longer and shouted, “Stop, stop! The cup is full; you can’t get any more in.”
The master stopped pouring and turned to Bruce, “You are like this cup, full of ideas and opinions. You come and ask for teaching, but your cup is full; I can’t put any more in.
Before I can teach you, my son, you will first need to empty your cup.”
Before you can welcome feedback, you must first empty your cup and keep an open mind.
How Feedback Creates Self-Awareness
Before you can seek feedback, it’s critical to understand that it begins with self-awareness. If you have no self-awareness, it will be difficult to understand that in order to grow, you need feedback.
Self-awareness is a process of continuing to reflect on yourself and is a never-ending work in progress. However, it’s the foundation of both emotional intelligence and self-leadership.
Becoming self-aware is to cultivate the ability to recognize and understand your emotions, your moods, what drives you and how this affects others around you. You gain this self-awareness by seeking feedback from others.
With high levels of self-awareness, you can understand what triggers your behavior, be it a thought, person, or situation you find yourself in. Feedback allows you to adapt your behavior to achieve greater heights of success.
Developing increased levels of self-awareness, it allows you to assess your current emotional state, understand what is driving your behavior and temper your response accordingly. It’s a vital skill that sets you on the path towards successfully leading and managing yourself.
Self-awareness begins with self-reflection.
Have you ever walked into a maze? It can be confusing. This way or that? You decide to go in one direction only to be confronted with a dead end. You go in another direction only to find it’s a blind alley. Eventually, you realize you need help finding your way out of the maze.
To find your way out successfully, you then seek feedback on where you went wrong and what you need to do differently. This feedback provides you with a solution that allows you to safely navigate your way out of the maze. Without feedback, you could take a chance on finding the way out yourself or you remain stuck in the maze for a long time.
Once you’re safely out, it’s surprising to learn how simple the solution was.
Some people spend their life in a labyrinth where they become so lost in their little world; they find it challenging to discover a way forward. Often, they don’t realize they’re lost until someone points it out to them and puts them on the right track. This of course only happens when they become open to feedback. Feedback is like asking for directions or a solution to a problem that puts you on the path to success.
Do You Have a Purpose in Life?
Meandering along in life with no idea what you ultimately want is like playing football on a field with no goalposts.
Imagine a team running around a field with no apparent purpose, no time clock, no goalposts, and no way to keep score. What’s the point? Would you watch a game like that on television? Of course, you wouldn’t; it would seem like a waste of time.
Yet this is exactly what happens with those who have no apparent purpose in life.
What feedback provides you with is it opens your eyes to possibilities that perhaps you hadn’t thought of. Much associate feedback with negative criticism. Feedback can also uncover hidden talents you were unaware of. Feedback can provide you with a plan to move forward and direct you if you stray from that plan. Feedback helps keep you on track.
Feedback Uncovers Your Blind Spots
When you become lost in a metaphorical maze and don’t know what the solution is, it’s usually because you haven’t yet mastered the art of self-reflection. Like most people, you have blind spots you are unaware of.
A blind spot is something others know and see in your behavior. You can’t see yourself. It might be something as simple as having one bad habit you are oblivious to that stunts your growth.
It could be you’re a poor leader or manager and have no concept of how your employees view you. Perhaps you are a lousy spouse or parent and have no idea how you are contributing to a breakdown in the relationship. It could be your peers at work don’t like working with you, therefore inhibiting your career opportunities and having no concept this is happening.
You can’t change a habit you’re not aware of. Feedback brings about that awareness.
Start with Identifying Your Bad Habits
Identifying your bad habits is the first step to self-awareness and, ultimately, self-leadership. By challenging yourself and seeking feedback from your family, friends’ peers, employees, customers, and even your boss, you will discover what your blind spots are.
Seeking feedback and developing self-awareness is key to personal and professional growth. Becoming self-aware is a significant step towards making strides towards creating a life of your choosing rather than working for someone else’s dream.
If you are serious about finding your way out of a metaphorical maze and identifying an exit strategy, it‘s worthwhile looking at the Johari Window.
The Johari Window
The Johari Window[i] is a graphic communication model that is used to improve understanding between individuals. The word “Johari” is taken from the names of Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, who developed the model in 1955.
There are two key ideas behind The Johari Window: You can build trust with significant others by disclosing information about yourself. Second, with the help of feedback from others, you can learn more about yourself, identify your blind spots, and come to terms with personal issues or habits that are stunting your growth.
Using the maze analogy, the Johari Window model is a way of discovering where you currently are, how you got lost, and find a way forward that fulfills your hopes and dreams. It gives you a starting point from a self-leadership perspective, giving you the feedback you require to make changes that will significantly impact your future self.
But, remember the story about Bruce Lee and the empty cup; you must first empty your cup and be ready for meaningful feedback.
4 Areas For Developing Self-Awareness
The Johari Window has four quadrants that represent four combinations:
- Open Space: Things that are known to you and known to others;
- Blind Spot: Things that are not known to you but known to others;
- Hidden Area: Things that are known to yourself but unknown to others; and
- Unknown Area: Things that are unknown to you and unknown to others.
To bring about significant change and develop self-leadership skills, recognizing your blind spots is the first step in self-discovery, leading to transformational change.
The main area to focus on gaining feedback is the blind spot. Information known to others and not known to you.
The Johari Window model develops a clear perception of how others see you. Your personality, strengths, weaknesses, attitude, thoughts, and beliefs. Armed with a greater understanding of yourself as a unique individual, you become empowered to build on those strengths and identify areas for improvement, keeping your personal and professional growth journey on track.
Using the Johari Window model is an effective tool to uncover what others know about you that you don’t know about yourself. While it can be confronting, it can also become very enlightening as you learn to develop emotional intelligence[ii], which is the key to personal and professional success. Furthermore, once you have identified your blind spots, it empowers you to make positive changes for the future.
Developing Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to deal with others successfully by recognizing and understanding your own emotions and feelings. Developing emotional intelligence allows you to use emotional information to guide your thinking and behavior. It gained popularity in the mid-nineties by Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence.[iii]
According to Goleman, there are five main elements of emotional intelligence. Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and Social Skills, all the skills required to lead yourself and successfully navigate all the elements of personal and professional success.
Developing emotional intelligence helps you communicate better, reduces stress and anxiety, improve relationships, and diffuses conflicts. Emotional intelligence allows you to empathize with others, and overcome life’s challenges more effectively.
Using the Johari Window model to uncover your blind spots will highlight how your communication skills, social skills, conflict resolution skills, and ability to empathize are perceived by others.
How? Simply to seek feedback from others.
The easiest way to seek feedback on your blind spots is to ask friends, family colleagues, your boss, coach, or mentor. As confronting as this may be, you must be willing to accept their feedback without recrimination or judgment. Just take the feedback on board and mull it over until it becomes an ah-ha moment. If possible, use a personal coach or mentor to help you decipher the feedback constructively.
When seeking feedback from others, you must listen without interruption and prejudice. Listen to the message and the meaning behind the news, not just the words. Sometimes the message is in what the other person doesn’t say just as much as what they do say.
Accepting another’s opinion of you can be brutal.
Remembering it’s only an opinion, their opinion.
Consider their feedback a gift that you accept with thanks and without arguing back or justifying your behavior. Like Bruce Lee, this is a process of emptying your cup first.
Once you accept the feedback and are willing to learn from it, this is a giant step forward in taking responsibility for your life and developing higher levels of emotional intelligence. Becoming aware of your blind spots puts you in the drivers’ seat to enhance the positive aspects of self-leadership.
360 Degree Feedback
Another effective way of uncovering behaviors detrimental to your growth is to undergo a 360-degree evaluation.[v] A 360-degree evaluation is completely confidential. Therefore, it takes away much of the emotion attached to seeking feedback face to face.
Because you don’t know who said what, no one gets embarrassed or defensive and prevents retaliation. It not only uncovers your blind spots, but it also answers the question, “How can I do better?”
A 360-degree evaluation gives you feedback on the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Learn to Thrive Not Just Survive
It’s natural to want to stick your head in the sand and not want to seek feedback. However, using a third party like a coach or mentor takes the sting out of the tail if the feedback is negative. A coach or mentor can also help you identify your strengths and unique talents that provide you with unlimited opportunities to develop these unique talents.
Find out more about 360 Degree Evaluations and the Hogan Assessment in Leadership to take your abilities to the next level. Simply book a FREE Discovery Call here – it may just give you the clarity you seek in driving an even more successful future.
[i] The Johari Window developed by psychologists Joseph Luft (1916–2014) and Harrington Ingham (1916–1995) is a graphic model of interpersonal awareness primarily used as a heuristic exercise.
[v] A 360-degree feedback is a method and tool providing employees with the opportunity to receive confidential feedback from others. Although it is primary used in a business setting, it’s not restricted to seeking feedback from supervisors, managers, reporting employees, co-workers, or customers; the 360-degree evaluation provides input based on behaviors others can see. This feedback provides insight into the skills and behaviors desired to accomplish visions, goals, and values.
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