“Because of its value, some people have called feedback ‘the breakfast of champions.’ But it isn’t the breakfast; it’s the lunch. Vision is the breakfast. Self-correction is the dinner” (Stephen R. Covey).
FEEDBACK IS THE THING THAT LETS US KNOW HOW WE’RE DOING. The word has some other scientific and technical definitions, but in the realm of human relationships, feedback is simply the information that comes to us from outside our own minds and tells us what the results of our actions have been. If an employee receives a performance appraisal from his supervisor, that’s feedback. If a student gets an exam back with a grade on it, that’s feedback. If a friend tells you that she was offended by something you said, that’s feedback.
Without feedback, it’s almost impossible to know whether our actions have achieved the result we were hoping for. We may have our own ideas and impressions about what we’ve done, but those impressions can be seriously out of touch with the real facts. Even the most objective people among us need the benefit of external feedback, information from outside ourselves that can help us see if there are any adjustments we need to make in what we’re doing.
If we know what’s good for us, we will appreciate, rather than resent, those who give us feedback. There is even a sense in which we ought to make good use of the feedback we get from enemies. If a comment is made that contains some truth we need to hear, we’d be foolish to disregard the truth just because of where it came from. Indeed, our enemies will sometimes come closer to telling us the truth than will our friends, who don’t want to jeopardize the relationship.
Too often, our lives languish for lack of feedback. We hide from it, preferring the comfort and security of our own self-image. And consequently, we stay stuck. We don’t make the progress that could be made if we opened ourselves up to outside information about where we really are right now. Too embarrassed to be told, “You’re still a beginner,” we doom ourselves to the permanent status of beginner.
“Building character and competency is a process, and one of the highest-leverage things we can do in this process is to regularly seek 360-degree feedback. It takes humility to ask for and receive it. You may have to take oxygen to get through it. But understanding it and acting wisely with regard to it can powerfully impact your time and quality of life” (Stephen R. Covey).