7 steps to handling feedback to empower you
“15% discount if you pick it up today” exclaimed an enthusiastic salesman. His English accent had the scent of Malabar coast. I looked at my cousin Bashir, who took me to a Cooperative Store located two blocks away from where he lived in Abu Dhabi. He gave a nod of approval, which to me meant that it was a good deal. The Malabari salesman sensed slight indecision on my part despite the nod from Bashir. My decisions are more often than not based on my internal reference. The salesman displayed his acumen by mentioning about the freebies on offer. He showed me a camera bag, a 4GB memory card. To me, it felt like the ice cream vendor had added choco-chip when I had only asked for a vanilla cone ice-cream.
While there was the sale and offers up for grabs at various counters, I got attracted to the camera counter. I put the Nikon DSLR camera inside my baggage. I left with Bashir for breaking fast that evening in the local mosque.
The Nikon DSLR travelled with me to Doha. I did a bit of clicking inside the house for the sheer excitement of owning one for a week or two. Then, the DSLR hibernated inside its habitat for the next year. Dubai summoned me again. The DSLR was in my hand baggage on my 50-minute flight over the Persian Gulf. My dear buddy from school, Ajesh, travelled from Muscat to Dubai for catching up with me. He had invited his Dubai-resident friend Wellington (Welli in short) for the meetup. We covered the length and breadth of Dubai in two days.
We were at the Emirates Mall. Welli and Ajesh were posing for a picture; they were standing overlooking the atrium. I was behind the Nikon DSLR. Click, click, click. I allowed the camera to do all the hard work of focusing, determining the adequacy of light. Welli quickly walked towards me after I finished clicking. He told me straight that that isn’t how you shoot! I gladly handed the camera to him and went to pose next to Ajesh. At the end of the posing sequence, Welli made a casual remark that I owned a DSLR but did not know how to shoot. It hurt me. It angered me. His words were factually correct. This was not about Welli. It was about me. My aspiration. My inaction.
Fast forward two years, I had used and abused (shooting long exposure during desert summer) my Nikon 5100 in learning how to click landscape, cityscape, time-lapse. I learnt the basics of photography from multiple gurus on Youtube. Welli’s words were honest feedback to me. It added fuel to the spark inside me.
Even though I had picked up the camera and learnt photography fundamentals, I never got comfortable shooting human faces. I had Welli’s voice in my head. The only way to completely silence the voice was to face my fear. I followed Peter Hurley on the web and social media for almost a year. When Peter offered a headshot instensive session closest to Doha, I jumped on a flight to go and learn to shoot a human face. Peter is a master of extracting the best facial emotions and expressions from his subjects. While in Berlin, Peter and I got along like a house on fire. He is an adorable man. I was assigned a coach by Peter to help me with my skill.
A few months later, I set up my home studio. I got my first paid gig after a month. I was ecstatic. I still carry the currency note in my bag that I received for my first paid job. Life had come full circle.
You could use feedback to either bury yourself deep inside. Or, make it a pedestal to launch yourself into orbit. It is a choice. Like Marshall Goldsmith says feedback is the breakfast of champion. It has the power to give you a new, empowering identity. Help you find your purpose. Alternatively, relieve pain.
So, how do you handle feedback in such a way that it fuels you:
1. Evaluate the merit in the feedback. Put the feedback on a 1 to 10 scale. The scale rating gives you an idea of how valuable the feedback is. Find a coach when your feedback is high on the rating. It will save you tonnes of time and effort. And the chances of arriving at the desired results is high.
2. If you have emotions, label it. Be aware of the impact it is having on you.
3. Put a simple game plan on how you plan to address the meta-message of the feedback. Split the game plan into bite-sized goals.
4. Find an exemplar(s) who has the results that you are after. Model him/her. I found Peter. Further, I found more photogs at Peter’s seminars that had different exemplary skills. I began modelling them.
5. Join a team or group that will fuel you. I joined photography groups. Went to workshops and built rapport with fellow photographers from across the globe. There is something magical about being in a group.
6. Action, action and action. Action cures fear. Measure activity in terms of progress. E.g. Understanding every button on the camera was progress for me towards big goal.
7. Have an accountability partner. Permit them to check in on your progress. Report into them at a periodic interval.
Some questions for you to explore:
Is there feedback that you would like to address?
What emotion do you have about it?
What is a baby step that will move you towards the desired result?
PS: If the feedback is sensitive, then it has a massive possibility. Feel free to inbox me on firstname.lastname@example.org, and we could engage to move you towards an empowering result. Maybe results?