SoulWork: Give the gift of feedback!

Feedback is one of those words that is often overused, yet seldom practiced.  For many of us, we immediately associate feedback with someone telling us that we’ve done something wrong.  That’s probably because in the rare instances that someone actually makes the effort to give us feedback, it’s often negative or at least something that we perceive as negative.  Unfortunately, what most of us fail to realize is that feedback is always positive if it is delivered with sensitivity and authenticity.

As leaders, feedback is probably one of the most important things that we can do for the people we work with.  I know that for me personally, feedback is an invaluable tool to help me recognize behaviors that hide in my ‘blind spots’.  Some of those behaviors are good things and recognizing them helps me find ways to share them more consciously.  On the other hand, some of them can detract from my contributions and are incredible opportunities for me to grow.  Either way, I look at feedback as a way to see part of myself in a new way.

We all have talents that we bring to the world and to our work.  Finding those and the best way to share them is a lifelong journey and the feedback we receive along the way can help find those course corrections that keep us on our path.  If the feedback you’re receiving isn’t something you want or expect to hear, it probably won’t feel good in that moment.  I’ve found that the key for me to receive feedback is to first listen and then allow any initial reaction to subside.  When I’m in a peaceful place, I’m far more likely to make good choices about what I believe to be true.  It’s important to remember, you always have power to choose how you feel and how you react.  If someone gives you feedback that you don’t feel in your gut to be valid or does it in a mean-spirited way, you can choose to let it go.  The choice is always yours.

The other side of the coin, giving feedback in a way that is open, honest and motivated by positive intention can not only be a gift, but a true act of service.  The key to giving feedback is to deliver it and then let go of the outcome.  You get to make the choices on whether you give the feedback and how you deliver it.  What the receiver does with it is up to them.  Far too many leaders expect and even demand that anything they say will result in some change on the other person’s part.  Your job is to deliver the message and what happens after that is not up to you.

Our SoulWork for the week is to think about the opportunities that we have to share genuine feedback with those around us and then act on those that feel right to you.  Remember that being open and honest with yourself and those around you is the key and that feedback is a gift when that is our intention.

Are you owning or just renting your career?

Why do you go to work?  It’s not a question we often ask ourselves, at least I can’t say that I do.  For many of us we do it because that’s what is expected of us or we need that paycheck or any number of very practical reasons.  But I couldn’t help but wonder today, ‘How did I get here?’.

At first I thought the answer was an easy on – I’m here because of all of the many decisions, big or small, that I’ve made throughout my life.  They’ve led me to this moment, working for this company in this particular role.  But that didn’t feel quite right to me.  As I looked back over my professional life, I’m afraid that I’ve often made decisions trying to control or in reaction to someone or something around me.  If I’m really honest with myself, I’m probably where I am by accident rather than intention.  That doesn’t mean that I haven’t worked hard, grown in knowledge and experience and even ‘moved up’.   It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person or a failure.  It does mean that it’s time for a change.

I think I’ve been ‘renting’ my career rather than ‘owning’ it.  What that means to me is that I’ve allowed people or events to fuel my emotions and drive my decisions.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made every decision and own the consequences of each of them, but I haven’t always made choices for the right reasons.

It’s very often too easy to place blame or justification for what do in the words or actions of others.  When we do that, we let go of our power to own our careers, and our lives.  Ask yourself a few questions…

  • Do you worry about who gets promoted around you?
  • Do you get upset when you find out that someone has a higher salary than you do?
  • Do you spend time trying to decipher intent behind a comment or in an email?

These are just a few examples of the behaviors that may indicate that you’re a ‘renter’.  I know I’ve fallen into these traps before and I would suspect that many of you have too.  When we are consumed with what happens with the people around us, how we perceive they think of us and what they have that we may not, we lose focus on what really matters, ourselves.  We give everyone around us control over how we feel and react.

Ultimately, you have control over yourself and nothing else.  Realizing that can make all the difference in your life – I know it has in mine.  When we stop trying to control everything that happens around us and take control of our own words and actions, you send a message to your Soul that says you are really ready to live your own life.  You’re ready to become an ‘owner’, not of anyone or anything around you, but of you.