#ShowingUp with Anese Cavanaugh

The real reason feedback is so scary

It's easy to notice when things go wrong, and then to stir and marinate in them. It's easy to do a quick high five and move forward when things go right. What's not as easy, is to do the reverse; to bask and marinate in what's gone right; and to do a quick high five and move forward when things have gone wrong.

Both sets of circumstances warrant attention. Both impact spirit. Both influence effectiveness and creativity. The wrong will always demand attention, it will be obvious to those around it, it will sit in the spirits of those involved in it. It will stay. But the "right" - without awareness and intention - will often flee. It may be sensed for a moment, perhaps be less obvious, and get overridden by all else there is to move on to...next.

Human beings can be pretty masterful at brewing in the wrong; where they "fell short"; where they didn't meet a goal; where they could have done it better. Talking about what's not working, or what didn't work, or pointing out what needs to be better, is an easy default for some of the smartest of people who mean great and want to do even more. Talking about what's working or pointing out what's going well is not as easy. Nor is accepting the praise and recognition for things going right. Yet it's key.

And this is one of the reasons feedback can be so scary. Because so much feedback is geared towards the "bad", there can be an automatic human response of "resistance" and fear to feedback. Before the feedback is even out, the person is prepared for the "bad"; their lens and experience is already shaded. The unnatural comfort with stewing in the "wrong" is also one of the reasons that out of 10 things, if 9 go great and 1 goes bad - the 1 gets the attention. The "one" is the one that can stick with a reputation for years. The "one" is the one that keeps people up at night, inspires fear to take risks, has people get "careful." The "one" creates stuckness.

I'm thinkin' this is not a totally energizing way to work with the human spirit or to inspire more creativity and excitement. How about you?

Instead? Try swapping the ratios of how you focus on "good" vs. "bad". If you struggle here, just notice the pull to go to the bad. Notice the pull to move through celebration quickly - and then shift it. Stay. That 1 out of 9 that went badly? Note it, learn from it, and celebrate the 9 like crazy. Throw a party. For feedback? Go out of your way for "good". Make a conscious effort to give people positive feedback. Treat it just a seriously as you would negative feedback. Acknowledge them for who they are and what they bring to the table (especially when things are going "wrong.") When the "one" does happen to someone you know, love 'em, help them learn from it, use it to grow.

Of course it's important to be aware of where things don't work, what can be improved, what downright sucks - and it's even more important to focus energy and attention on the opposite side of the street. It's core to your creative and compassionate spirit to honor the people (that includes yourself) for who they are and how they're showing up. The good, the bad, the ugly - it all counts. Zoom in on some good and see how much easier the bad and the ugly become. (Funny that even in the "good, bad, ugly" cliche there are 2 "bads" and 1 "good".)

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