Have you ever performed a task so many times, you “could do it blindfolded”?
In 1947, Life Magazine asked some of the top comic strip talent in the U.S. to draw their beloved cartoon characters while blindfolded. The results were varied. Dick Tracy was almost flawless and Dagwood was still quite recognizable. Most looked like Picasso had reinterpreted them.
When they can see what they’re doing, these guys are great artists. If you remove that feedback—being able to see what they’re doing—their results go downhill quickly. If you’re not getting feedback, your results are suffering just as much.
How does getting feedback improve your results?
- You can correct course. The first reason you need feedback is so you can get back on course. If I try drawing a circle with my eyes open, it’s a lousy circle, but I can at least finish where I started. With my eyes closed, I’m happy if it’s anywhere near 360°. You need that awareness to see how you’re doing and what you need to change to meet your goals.
- Others can see things you can’t. We all have blind spots—thing we do that we just aren’t aware of. Others have a different perspective of us than we do. They can see areas where we can improve that we either can’t see or don’t want to acknowledge. It can be tough to hear, but we need it if we’re serious about improving.
- Remember the things you’re already doing well. Sometimes, that third-party perspecitve is a good thing. We have a tendency to focus on everything we’re doing wrong and ignore the things we’re doing right. When we receive positive feedback, it reminds us of the challenges we’ve already overcome and the changes we’ve already made. We’re often doing better than we think we are, but it takes someone else to point it out.
- Others will help you dream bigger. Did you ever have a mentor, a teacher, or a friend who saw thing in you that you just couldn’t see in yourself? Someone who challenged you to improve. To get better. To set the bar a little bit higher. To dream bigger. Sometimes we need that voice telling us what we’re capable of to break through our limited vision.
- See what the market wants. Every one of us is selling a product. This might be a retail product, a professional service, or just our own personal brand—what kind of a person/employee/husband/father/friend we are. We all have a market. We have customers and clients. Ask them what they want. They’ll tell you how you can better meet their needs.
It’s easy to ask for feedback. Hearing that feedback is much tougher, and actually acting on it? Incredibly tough. Our egos start throwing up defenses. We tune out the things that challenge the notion that we’re already perfect. If you want to change, don’t cling to the status quo as soon as someone shows you how.
Unsolicited praise is welcome. We’ll take that all day long. Feedback works best when it’s solicited. That’s why you need to ask for it. You need to give the other person permission to speak into your life. They need to know that you’ll listen and not get mad.
Without feedback, you’re just putting random lines on paper. You’re going through the motions, but you aren’t creating the value you think you are. With feedback, you’re creating a product that brings a smile to everyone around you. If you’re good, you may even create something that lasts for generations.