Here’s how most feedback sessions typically unfold:
First, they tell you something that you are doing really well.
Second, they tell you something that you could improve, but it’s minor and unimportant.
Third, they tell you another thing that you are doing really well.
This is the sandwich method at its finest (the “bad” comment is hidden in the middle). In these conversations, the feedback recipient learns nothing, but they get a nice pat on the back. The feedback giver escapes the session without offending, and life goes on.
It’s up to you to set the context for these conversations.
Make it clear that you don’t need feedback, you want what’s called constructive criticism. Constructive criticism skips the fluff - the things we’re doing well - and gets straight to what will actually help us in the future.
Also, make it clear that you’re not asking the other party to declare what you are doing wrong. Instead, you’re asking them to help you think through ideas for how to grow, develop, and learn. This takes the pressure off the other party and ensures a candid conversation ensues.
We’ve all heard the adage, “you can do anything you put your mind to.” But is this really good advice?
Assuming the goal is reasonable (e.g., I’ll never be a professional basketball player), is hard work all that’s necessary for landing your dream job, switching careers, or living the life you want?
I think that the answer is yes, but there’s a catch. Everything has a cost. We have a finite amount of resources - time, energy, money, etc.
It’s about deciding whether or not you’re willing to use your precious resources to overcome the probabilities embedded within each challenge.
Are you willing to forgo time spent with family to garner new skills or moonlight in the evenings? Are you willing to risk your savings to start a new business?
The question isn’t whether or not you can do it. You can. The question is whether or not it’s worth it.
“Here’s what you need to be successful in the 21st century.”
This is a common headline in work-related outlets. For example, the most common suggestions include things like being savvier with technology or being more in-tune with how to leverage demographic or cultural differences.
These suggestions are on-point, however, they address micro-level trends. The bigger, macro-level trend that deserves attention is that the speed at which micro-level trends evolve is becoming exponentially faster.
A better suggestion, therefore, is less about reminding people which trends to stay on top of, and more so about reminding people that they need to spend more time learning new things versus mastering what they already know.
The key question to ask yourself, then, is “how much of your time are you investing in learning new skills?” Over time, the answer to this question should gradually increase.
We know a great deal about leadership, the process of leading others towards collective goals.
Comparatively speaking, we know relatively little about self-leadership, the process of leading ourselves towards self-set goals.
Self-leadership is about increasing our self-awareness, which in turn, leads to self-regulation (see Bryant & Kazan, 2012). It’s in these moments of self-regulation where we get closer to being our ideal self.
Self-leadership is complex. It has to be specific to the individual because each of us has unique characteristics, goals, and circumstances.
Self-leadership is also challenging. It’s about what goes on inside our heads. This means that sometimes our assumptions and biases can get in the way.
That’s why I’ve started this blog called The Self-Leadership Experiment.
The goal is to create a community where participants can self-reflect, contextualize, and debate the merits of different strategies.
This approach recognizes that leadership is not a person, it’s a process. It takes ongoing experimentation—trial and error—to reach our goals. There are no quick fixes—it takes honest, intelligent effort over a sustained period of time.
My hope is that these posts spark ongoing conversations so that we can learn from one another. Through this dialogue, we can start to contextualize our ideas and challenge our assumptions, and in turn, make real progress on becoming a better leader.
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