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How Can Feedback Help You Make Better Quality Decisions?
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jacquette M. Timmons.
On December 5, 2019, I was in the iHeart studio recording a special show about overspending during the holiday season with The Breakfast Club’s Angela Yee and financial journalist Stacey Tisdale. It was an absolute blast, and it is an opportunity for which I am extremely grateful. But that was not how I had originally thought I’d be spending that day.
I was “supposed” to be hosting my pricing retreat for entrepreneurs and small business owners, “In the Zone: How to Price Your Genius.” While lots of people expressed an interest, no one registered for the event, making that Thursday a bittersweet day. Grateful for the media hit; bummed that something I’ve successfully hosted before and was looking forward to doing again didn’t happen.
Have you ever “shipped” something and it flopped?! (I know… such an eloquent choice of words.)
The experience put me in a reflective mood in general, and about feedback more specifically. Because no RSVPs is absolutely a form of feedback!
But about what, exactly?
Is it feedback to abandon the idea? No, I don’t believe so.
Is it feedback about the timing? Maybe the week after Thanksgiving only made sense to me?
Is it feedback about my marketing process? Perhaps...
Or is it feedback about something else entirely?
In the days that followed, the fundamental question with which I wrestled and am inviting you to ruminate on is this:
When you get feedback, when is it an invitation to pivot and when is it an invitation to dig your heels in further? (Tweet this.)
Because, as a creative giant, you get feedback on a daily basis. You get it as a boomerang when it comes to the actions you take (or don’t), and you get it from the people in your life.
The Power of Feedback
Feedback is as ubiquitous as it is vital. And not to be overly dramatic, but it’s why, in part, we (as a human race) have made it this far. (Think: when babies cry.) Feedback is a tremendous tool for signaling needs and wants and appreciation, as well as a sense of belonging. It's also an equally tremendous tool for responding to those signals.
Feedback is like a traffic light. It can signal when to stop, when to proceed with caution, or when to go full speed ahead. Feedback can promote personal and professional growth, too. It can even spark innovation and company growth.
Feedback can also be a tremendous tool for how you process and view the success and failures of the year before, and how you allow those to shape your goals and actions for the year ahead — especially right now, at the top of the year.
2019 is not too far in the rearview mirror. So as you reflect on it, what steps can you take to ensure you use the feedback from it to make better quality decisions in 2020?
For our purposes, let’s contain our conversation about feedback to the signals you get from the actions you take (or don’t) regarding your ideas and projects. Let’s set aside feedback you get from other people. Not because the latter isn’t useful, because it certainly can be. It’s just that I believe you and I wrestle with that kind of feedback differently than the feedback we get from our ideas and projects.
There’s something about the former (ideas, projects) that can have a deep impact on your self-esteem and sense of confidence, satisfaction, and power. (Or, is that just me?!) There’s also something about the former that can have a significant impact on whether you pivot or double-down, stay the course, and dig in further.
There’s something about the former that can help you see your experience differently, especially if you focus on the five (5) elements below.
Elements of Feedback
Even though feedback is ubiquitous, recognizing it is another matter. That requires you to be on the lookout for it. Therefore, the first element of feedback is to listen. You need to pay attention and be curious about what is and isn’t happening when you take (or don’t take) certain actions or make certain decisions.
The next element is to ask the question, “What does this mean?” And when you get an answer, ask the question several more times. By repeating the question, you create the space to discover not only the obvious answer but also the less obvious one. And the less obvious answer may end up being just as crucial for the subsequent decisions you make, especially as it pertains to pivoting or doubling-down.
The third element is to separate your personal (and business, if pertinent) identity from the feedback. This is especially true if you don’t like the feedback or if it isn’t what you were expecting.
For me, this was hard and required a lot of self-reflection. I couldn’t quite square the disconnect between a known need, expressed interest, success with having done it before, and a lack of registrations for the December retreat date, despite having integrated the recommendations I’d received along the way.
I had to remember that just because the event “failed” didn’t mean I was a failure.
Can you relate?
The fourth element is to determine your next move: Is it time to pivot or double-down? At the end of the day, feedback is always about a prior action (or inaction). Its purpose is to modify and/or improve future actions — to drive a change of some sort.
Without feedback, you miss the chance to evolve. You miss the chance to initiate change or positively respond to the variables that have changed and are impacting your ideas and projects. You may even miss the opportunity to improve your bottom line.
Finally, the truth about feedback is that when we like it, we LOVE it!
But, for some of us — myself included (and I’m working on this) — when we don’t like it, well, that’s a different story. When we don’t like it, we tend to personalize it in a way that isn’t healthy or useful for our personal and professional growth.
But in reality, feedback (both positive and negative) is a tool for continuous learning. And if you remain open to it, it can help you...
Develop improvements to your ideas and projects that you hadn’t originally imagined and envisioned;
Revise your goals; and
Create more aligned strategies that better take into account your time, energy, attention, and money.
And if you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, feedback can help you refine your message, method of creating and delivery, target market, and marketing approaches in ways you may not have previously considered. These represent all the ways feedback can help you make better quality decisions. And, they represent opportunities for where and how you can do an even better job of weaving excellence into your body of work.
Oh. In case you’re wondering, I opted to double-down and dig in further. The next pricing retreat is March 26th! ????