Feedback can be neutral

September 7, 2018

"There is no failure. Only feedback.
—Robert Allen

 

Looking at results can be helpful in that they can be measuring sticks providing us data on where we are with our projects or goals. Unfortunately, we frequently we use them to beat ourselves up. But the meaning we assign to the data is really up to us. Have we failed? That interpretation is independent from the data. We make it up and decide.

 

The data may not be good right now, but saying "we have failed" is creating an absolute out of something that is relative and dependent on a time-based interpretation that is actually malleable. Even for a goal that can no longer be completed, to state "it was a failure" is to place the entirety of the mission as complete, done with no future application possible. This is never the case. We just arbitrarily decide that it is. 

 

What's worse is we will go a step further and then identify with the results in such a way that not only has it that we failed, but we make ourselves into failures too. We are not pleased with the results, so now, not only are we disappointed in them (due to how we position them psychologically) we are disappointed in ourselves. So it becomes a two-fold interpretation: first we label and make negative meaning about the results (which invariably doesn't even support our goals), and then we collapse that into our self-image and we become our results. 


Feedback is a information. It's neutral and has nothing to do with your identity or who you are. Personally, this is probably the most challenging lesson for me in Transformational work. I always want to identify myself —and thus my self-worth— with my results, whether they good, bad or ugly. If I create something great, that must mean I am great! If I fall on my face and a project doesn't go so well, it must mean I suck. Right? NO! I am not my results and the feedback I receive from my work, projects and goals are simple data points on how to better my results in the future so I can achieve my goals and live the life I want to lead. 

 

 

 

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