I have a love-hate relationship with feedback. First, I love feedback; I don’t particularly mind if it’s good feedback, but not-so-great (okay, negative) feedback allows me to start an argument with myself and an investigation into the ways I could have done better. As a Myers-Briggs type ENTP, feedback makes my world go around, and I pay close attention.
The problem is that I can be swayed in the wrong (for me) direction by positive or negative feedback–I tend to pay too much attention. Some days, I covet the introvert’s ability to shut out the world and listen to a voice in his or her head that clarifies the need or want and then turns the enterprise toward the right star. Without dissenting opinions, and without negotiating new, heretofore unseen objectives. My compass points toward heat and light, the novel and difficult, the untried, untested, and interesting. Some days, continuity and the linear, incremental path is best, and it’s a (worthwhile) challenge for me to keep that front and center.
How do you learn that; and how do you manage yourself for the long game? I think you have to develop a process of assessing your self, for your own good, and to give you options at all times. I think that a self management process that begins with assessment has to be conscious and aware, intentional and drama-free. You have to be truthful with you, in order to develop a reliable process for getting yourself through both success and failure. No one else can do that.
Success can be as misleading as the harsh criticism we give ourselves when things don’t go right. Both success and failure are pretty fleeting, even if and when fleeting can be measured in years. So performing self-assessment only when you have failed is not as useful as assessing your performance against articulated goals and intentions on a regular basis. That allows you to look at processes as well as results.
Ideas for you to consider:
1. Set goals, no more than 3 to 5 at a time. You can change them whenever you want, they are yours. Write them down and review them no more than once a week but no less than once a month. Make at least one relate to behavior, not results. When a goal’s usefulness has expired, make a new one to replace it.
2. Ask others for feedback and input. But when you get feedback, think about the opinion you were given, before you simply accept it. Decide for yourself if it’s right for you. Keep it in your stash of things you aren’t sure about even if you are sure about it. Don’t automatically assume that what you congratulate yourself on is really a good reason for celebration. Give plenty of thought to the matter before registering your own pleasure at success. When you are feeling really happy with what you did, know that is an excellent time to get humble and realistic. Happy, of course, and humble. And realistic.
3. Acknowledge your capacity for change. At the end of the day, it’s better to be willing to grow, and better to grow, than to be comfortable in your zone. Particularly if you want to serve others, versatility in your style of interaction and the choices in your repertoire are critical to long term career success. Be willing to try new and different ways of looking at and dealing with problems.
4. Slow down. Just. Slow. Down. Not to smell the roses, but to see the opportunities.
5. Set criteria for accepting allies in your quest, whatever it is. Some people are not good for you, and you have to learn who they are and you have to see them coming and deflect the impact. Their feedback or input is not useful and repeated exposure is not healthy. That won’t change. You can listen to an opinion and not agree, or listen and disagree, or pretend to listen and pretend to agree, if that is your first step. Always reserve the chance to think about it, and say, “I will need to think about this. thanks for telling me.” But toxicity will always represent poison and poison will make you sick. So learn how to move away from the danger, nicely, with dignity, and without making enemies. Sometimes your job is to teach or set an example.
6. Don’t reward yourself too often, or for little things you already know how to do or when to do. Hold out for the high stakes before you indulge. Set stakes high, when you can.
7. Make a list of what you want to direct yourself to do, and make it real and real challenging.
Life is short. Change is inevitable. Learning how to manage your personal growth couldn’t be more important.