I welcome feedback now. I did not use to. I used to be defensive, guarded and critical. In the quiet recesses of my mind, I would justify why “they had not fully grasped “the picture” or “my reality”.
But the truth is, I was not leaning into “their reality” and how their perception might assist me, grow me, stretch me.
A few years ago, I was doing a keynote talk for a small women’s event at a prestigious venue. I prepared really well, but as a beginner speaker, I had mainly been doing online presentations. Now I had bravely accepted an invitation to speak live.
I spoke on my entrepreneurial journey of 23 years (back then) and the lessons learnt. I was brave enough – encouraged by a fellow speaker friend – to organize feedback forms. I got incredibly positive and validating feedback from all the audience, except one participant who said:
“The speaker is really not my style of speaker. I was expecting a pragmatic ‘how to’ model. She also walked across her slides which was irritating as I could not see the images properly”.
The organizers were so happy with the event that they sent me flowers.
The old Alison would have been so devastated by that one comment, she would have battled to get back in the saddle.
But the more mature and “getting better at life” Alison welcomed the nudge, the stretch, the growth.
I signed up with an experienced global speaker coach, Paul Du Toit, who guided me to perfect my craft and grow my confidence.
That is how I continue to grow. By being open to feedback, but not paralyzed by it. To see it as data that might guide one’s journey, rather than judgement.
As a reflection, rather than a perception. As food for thought, rather than a diet of disaster or dis-ease. As fertile soil for nourishing.
Because as Jim Yong says: “No matter how good you think you are as a leader, my goodness, the people around you will have all kinds of ideas for how you can get better. So, for me, the must fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humanity to continue to get feedback and to try to get better – because your job is to try help everybody else to get better.”
Tim Fargo says: “Mistakes should be examined, learnt from and discarded, not dwelled upon and stored”.
Only then can we reach the point where there are no longer “mistakes”, only learnings.
Thank you for tribing with me.