There is no failure. Only Feedback – Robert Allen
When was the last time you asked for feedback? When was the last time you asked for feedback when you failed at something? Clichés aside, you learn from your failures but you learn the most when you ask for feedback. Failures knock you down, humiliate you, bruise your ego, and cause you to be defensive. As a result, you blame others and come up with excuses. I know I have done this many times.
These natural reactions and feeling combat the level and type of learning that can be drawn from failure. In the moment, it is hard to view a failure of any endeavour worth caring about as further opportunity for growth but in fact that’s what it usually is.
When you succeed, you don’t learn as much as when you fail because you are usually too busy basking in the glow of success. This isn’t a bad thing as it is usually the ultimate goal of any great endeavour. Receiving positive feedback is important for maintaining your current level of success but constructive feedback is what’s going to take you to the next level.
When I finish a speaking engagement, the audience is usually full of positive feedback, even if I feel like I bombed. The handout evaluations are extremely positive (in most cases) which feels nice but it’s not the kind of feedback that’s going to make me an even more effective presenter.
In the case of a speaking engagement, most people are just happy it’s not them on stage having to speak so they are thankful for you showing up and presenting. Other feedback usually comes in one or two words, such as “great job”, “fantastic”, or “inspirational”. All nice to hear but is it going to make me a better speaker? No.
First of all, quality feedback needs to be specific so you know exactly what you should continue or alter. Secondly, in this case, the general audience member doesn’t have the experience to give critical feedback of my presenting skills. What’s going to make me a better speaker is getting constructive feedback from other seasoned speakers and coaches. This is why it is important to surround yourself with mentors and advisors in your industry no matter what your leadership level is. There is always someone with more or varied experience to give you feedback. (tweet that) You just need to ask for it.
Earlier in my life, I am sure I missed out on many tremendous opportunities to receive feedback from my failures as I wallowed in self-pity. Fortunately, as I moved into leadership roles and started teaching leadership, I really saw the value in gaining feedback. Now I am a feedback seeking machine, especially when it comes to my failures.
When possible, I try to have a fellow seasoned professional speaker come and watch every presentation I do to give me specific feedback on how I could make the presentation even better.
To Become A Feedback Machine You Need To ASK, ASK, ASK!
When you experience failure and don’t ask for feedback, you miss out on a tremendous learning opportunity. How have you learn from feedback gained from a failure that helped you succeed in the end? Share your comments below.