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Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions

A couple of weeks ago, I did a webinar on leadership for a company in the Midwest.

After that event, we sent out a survey to those who participated. We wanted them to freely share their thoughts on the experience. My excitement was high at the thought of hearing their responses, but I was disappointed when a few of the respondents wrote some very strongly worded comments that were not particularly positive. The truth is, at their root, the critiques really gave me a road map to improvement. This prompted me to consider the role of feedback in our lives, and how important it is in our overall growth.

In earlier times in my life, I might have ignored or obsessed over negative comments like those. As a writer, journalist and keynote speaker, a large amount of my career is spent presenting ideas—or myself—to others. And in the last few years, I’ve grown to realize that feedback is the breakfast of champions.


[tweetthis url=”http://donyaeger.com///feedback-is-the-breakfast-of-champions”]The Great ones know that feedback is the breakfast of Champions![/tweetthis]


Michael Jordan is the best basketball player that ever lived, but he still appreciated the value of feedback from his coach, Phil Jackson.

Michael Jordan is the best basketball player that ever lived, but he still appreciated the value of feedback from his coach, Phil Jackson.

The very best in sports and business that I’ve had the pleasure to work with truly appreciate the opportunity to get candid feedback. Then, when they have been granted some insight into the effectiveness of their abilities or strategy, they do something incredibly rare: They apply the advice and grow from it. In a world where most cringe at the thought of honest dialogue, the Greats find in that feedback the seeds that will help them grow. I desired to take this lesson in my own life and use these anonymous critiques to help me get better. Working with the feedback from my survey, it took me less than three hours to improve the specific points in my program that I had delivered to that company. (And I wish they could see it again!)

Stephen Woessner

Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI

A few days later, I was on my weekly call with Stephen Woessner, internet marketing author, speaker, and consultant. Stephen also happens to be my accountability partner. Two years ago, we entered into a relationship where every Friday morning, we talk and hold each other answerable for the growth we’d intended to make through the next week—professionally and personally. I shared with him how I had reacted with the negative feedback, and how I’d used it to make myself better. There was a long pause on the line, and Stephen said, “That is a great lesson for me. When we get feedback, we have to do something with it.”


[tweetthis url=”http://donyaeger.com///feedback-is-the-breakfast-of-champions”]Great leaders don’t just seek feedback, they use it![/tweetthis]


Stephen made the point that often, professionals seek feedback from others—but when we get it, we don’t do anything with what was shared. In a sense, it goes in one ear and out the other. The Greats realize that asking for feedback and not doing anything with it is worse than not seeking feedback at all! To make feedback the breakfast of champions, you have to seek it, devour it, the convert it into fuel. Otherwise the criticism, whether constructive or critical, is wasted.

If feedback is the breakfast of champions, what are you eating today? Are you seeking feedback from someone on your performance? Have you ever received some valuable feedback that impacted you in a meaningful way? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear your story!

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Comments (8)

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    Cevin Ormond

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    Interesting. Just yesterday I sought and received some feedback on my new Speaker One-Sheet then immediately made changes based upon those recommendations. There’s no value in seeking mentors and feedback if you don’t implement their recommendations.

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      Don Yaeger

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      Cervin, you absolutely nailed the point of my blog with your comment. Feedback is only as good as it’s implementation. If we don’t do something with it, then it’s only wasted advice on our part. Thanks for sharing!

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    Davide

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    Hi Don!

    Your comments are very true! I was the type to take feedback I thought was negative and ignored it. As I moved up in my company, my current supervisor told me that I have unlimited potential but there are obstacles in my way that she knows will get in my way of getting to the next level. By this she meant I needed to get a higher level degree to even be looked at for a higher position. I applied for several positions and sure enough I didn’t get an interview. I talked with her again she gave me the same advice. I am now looking to get that degree but I have wasted almost a year by not taking her feedback!

    I believe feedback should be taken in both personal and professional situations.

    Thanks!

    • Avatar

      Don Yaeger

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      Davide, thank you for sharing your experience. I think it’s always important to recognize the lessons that will have a long-term impact on our lives. This is a maturation process that everyone goes through. Whenever we receive advice, we should evaluate how it can make us better and not how it makes us feel. Best of luck to you and your future endeavors!

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    Ray Ramirez

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    If you are a boss, how do you seek honest feedback that can help? And those who give it (employees) in a small 4 person office won’t feel intimidated by giving the feedback that is hard to share with the person who has the capacity to fire them?
    And then how do you let them realize that by doing so does NOT give them the right to never be criticized or corected?

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    David Shifflett

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    Good Day Don,
    Let me start with that I always enjoy reading your articles. As a retired Air Force Aircraft Maintenance Superintendent, I always wanted my airmen to challenge me. It helped me stay current and it helped educate them. They all knew that if they were uncomfortable with tasks we needed to accomplish they could come to me for direction. Now obviously they had to be professional in the manner in which they challenged me.

    • Avatar

      Don Yaeger

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      David, that is an awesome example of remaining sharp with the considerations of your peers. (And a great show of leadership as well!) Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Avatar

    Milan Larson

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    Hi Don,

    Thanks for posting this message…great stuff! When I reflect back on my best performances as a leader, I think of Brian. He and I were colleagues at the time and we developed a very high level of trust and mutual respect. Out of that came many times when we could openly share feedback with each other. Because of the high trust, I can honestly remember when he had really harsh words of feedback…I never perceived it as a threat. Instead, I usually asked more questions about what he was saying to get clarity on how to improve.

    Fast forward to today…I work with more athletic coaches and I find it more common that they like to coach but not be coachable, e.g. receive feedback. It’s a much different environment and one I find interesting. How do you get a coach to receive feedback on their skills like they try to do with their athletes?

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Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated, 11-time New York Times best-selling author, leadership expert and executive coach.

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