I HEREBY GIVE YOU ALL PERMISSION to point out anything I do that you think could be better. Please give me constructive feedback whenever you want.
It won’t make me like you less. It will make me LIKE YOU MORE (if you care about that).
Your feedback might be right and it might be wrong. But I am 100% confident it won’t kill me. I will consider your feedback, and decide whether or not to change what I’m doing.
#1 We all have blind spots.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
We have well-researched stubborn cognitive biases.
#2 Feedback and data is the lifeblood of success.
Without feedback, you’re stuck with what you have right now. You’ll never get any better. You’ll never have any more.
You know what bugs me?
#3 Most people don’t give each other honest feedback because everybody’s egos are so sensitive.
If you tell many people that something they did could be improved, they take it personally.
#4 People like people who like them.
So, instead of helping people by being constructive, too many of us are just vapidly supportive (in a way that may not really be that supportive).
“I’m awesome. If you don’t think everything I do is awesome, there’s something wrong with YOU!!!”
The people who tell everybody how awesome they are “winning friends and influencing people.”
Those people are good…
- If you believe you’re already awesome and don’t need to improve.
- Or if you need a ton of reassurance because you have a lot of self-doubt…
- Or if you can’t handle feedback because it implies that you aren’t already perfect.
We have a lot of people who pretend to be perfect, a lot of people who believe they’re perfect, a lot of followers who want perfect people to follow, and a lot of butt-kissers who perpetuate this whole “you’re awesome” mentality.
#5 Growth mindset people win in the end.
But if you are a growth mindset person (Carol Dweck’s book), you get this.
#2 again: you need feedback, input and data in order to improve.
Yes, you’re awesome. Really.
But hopefully you are awesomer than you were last year.
And next year you’ll be awesomer than you are today.
Early in Louis CK’s career, many people dismissed him. They didn’t see what he could become. Even he was discouraged- after his first set, it took him two years to get back up again. Eventually he was the funniest comedian on Earth.
Steph Curry wasn’t a high draft pick but he became the NBA MVP. He’s not the only athlete like that. It’s not just talent- it’s drive, persistence and feedback.
Success is a choice.
#6 You could be doing something stupid right now and everyone thinks it’s a mistake but no one will tell you because they want you to like them.
I know one really high profile person many of us know who started a campaign that was weird, out of character, and of questionable viability- but as far as I know, nobody, including myself, told them it might be a bad idea, because they are so influential.
A lot of people jumped in to help for a variety of reasons…
The more influential and powerful you are, the less likely you are to hear detracting viewpoints, because everybody wants something from you.
I was guilty myself. It seemed weird to me, but who was I to say. And of course, when people debut these things, they usually don’t ask, “Hey, is this a stupid idea?”
Looking back, having seen that campaign fail, I wonder if there was a way I could have expressed my doubts…
…but the risk is that the person will “hear you out” but secretly hate you afterwards. And unfortunately we have to assume that most people can’t take constructive feedback.
It’s a shame.
#7 Everybody wants you to buy their chairs (Phenomenon movie with Travolta) no matter what those chairs are.
“Hey everybody, love my new thing!”
Now, while I fully support buying the chairs of your loved ones- that’s a beautiful sentiment- but not all your ideas are your chairs.
This culture of “everything you do is awesome” is not really in your best interests. If you want to keep doing better and getting better results in life, you need people who will give you honest feedback, and you need to be strong enough to take it.
I’m not saying we don’t need encouragers or motivators. We certainly do.
#8 You need at least a couple close friends who really think you’re a rock star. It will help you believe more and achieve more.
But if you need everyone to be an encourager, that’s pathological.
I know a comedian who is so fixed mindset, he believes that any comedian that’s not funny right away will never be funny. Even if the audiences start laughing at them (as they improve), he still believes they aren’t funny, because they weren’t funny in the beginning. As a result, he himself does not grow that much. He may be a good headliner, but chances are he’ll never be that famous or successful, because he’s not growing.
There are a lot of #1 draft picks who disappoint because they don’t have drive or a growth mindset. I’m not going to name names…
#9 The fewer ideas you have, and the more personal you take them, and the less feedback you get, the more likely you are to fail.
When your ideas are precious to you, you’re in danger.
…because your current idea might suck, but you might think it’s awesome.
Listen, I’ve had hundreds of bad ideas.
- For 5 months in 2013, I wrote 5 jokes a day- that’s about 750 jokes. About 95% of them sucked. I didn’t know right away which they were. And for a joke, the audience has to laugh- so there’s no way to know without feedback.
- I’ve posted hundreds of Facebook posts and I’ve created thousands of Facebook ads. Only a few of got stellar results (like a 21% engagement rate or a 11,800% ROI Facebook ad). That’s just the way statistics and outliers work.
- I’ve written 8 books. One was an international bestseller, got me on TV and changed my business and life completely. One was a fun tangent but possibly a mistake. A couple of them are not really remarkable. That’s just statistics.
I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s perspective on this- genius is not you- it’s a gift. It frees you from the personal attachment to ideas that can stop the flow of new ideas and kill you from an emotional standpoint:
#10 The average anything you create sucks compared to the best things you create.
That’s just the way things are.
So don’t take your ideas personally. Get more of them.
#11 We need to get feedback from people we trust.
I have a couple masterminds I’m in where we do that. And several times we’ve had to reinforce the culture of blunt feedback. When we do that, it’s valuable and transformative. We move forward and get better results.
When we don’t give blunt feedback, it’s superficial and doesn’t help anybody apart from just making you feel like you have some sort-of friends you can brag to, as if that really helps- it doesn’t.
Ok, bragging about success to your mastermind helps a little, but it doesn’t make the business-changing or income-changing impact that real honest feedback can.
I sometimes make the mistake of giving constructive feedback to people who don’t know me that well. I always laugh to myself about how I’m “losing friends and influencing nobody.”
You don’t want to hear from trolls who don’t have your best interests at heart- I get that. You can definitely identify a troll- there’s no conversation that evolves into something constructive.
The spirit of the feedback needs to be that they truly want to help you, and not in a condescending way… The spirit is that we’re all learning, we’ve all made mistakes, we’re all just trying different things out, and we all want to help each other with that.
But because a lot of us only get feedback from 3-4 people close to us, I believe we are all missing out.
I feel like this is one of the saddest limitations of human nature. We’re all too sensitive. We don’t get all the feedback we could. We keep our blind spots. We end up sucking a lot more than we could.
Probably, nothing I’ve said here will change human nature. You’ll still really love all those people who keep blowing smoke up you patootie and never give you any constructive input… oh well :-)
Maybe I’ll learn from this and change my mind. Probably I need to get wiser and build relationships and trust more before I give feedback. Probably.
Brian Carter is a popular business expert and keynote speaker with Fortune 500 clients like NBC, Microsoft and Humana as well as small businesses. He delivers motivational keynotes with practical takeaways with the comedic flair of his stand up comedy background. His agency, The Brian Carter Group, creates marketing that excites customers and increases brand visibility, sales and loyalty. Brian is a bestselling author you’ve probably seen on Bloomberg TV or in Inc, Entrepreneur, The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. He has over 250,000 online fans and reaches over 3 million people per year.