Critical feedback will either bury you or help you develop a firm foundation to stand on.
One hot, sultry afternoon on their South West New Mexico ranch Maria asked Manuel if he had seen their old burro. Just moments later, Maria heard the braying of their old donkey in the distance. She followed the sound to find him at the bottom of their abandoned well. Sadly, he had somehow strayed away from the barn yard and fallen in.
What to do. He was fine, but unfortunately the well was so deep that there was really no way they could get the old donkey out. The most merciful thing they could think to do was simply bury the old donkey and put him out of his misery. So sadly, Manuel began to shovel dirt down into the well. This went on into the night. Manuel worked tirelessly, he didn’t want the donkey to suffer. By morning light, to Manuel’s joy and amazement, there was the old burro standing on top of the packed down pile of dirt. The burro may have been old, but he wasn’t dumb. Each time Manuel threw a shovel of dirt into the well, the burro just shook it off his back and trampled it down, and as the night progressed, he worked his way out of the hole.
The criticism we receive will bury us, rob us of our confidence, eradicate our courage or provide us with the understanding and insights we need to learn from our experiences, grow and improve.
Criticism comes in many forms: veiled sarcasm, snide remarks and profane comments. Criticism comes from many places: from the person who flips the bird in traffic, to the annual review and everywhere in between. Criticism can come from our friends, peers, parents, bosses, coworkers, customers and others. Most people have very little training in how to provide feedback in a constructive way and out of their frustration, jealousy, anger, impatience or dislike, they unthinkingly throw these comments at us. The nature of these comments can range from how we drive, how we look, to how we perform our jobs and more. Much of the feedback we receive should be shaken off, not taken personally and trampled down. If we don’t develop the ability to shake it off, we will be demoralized and lose all of our enthusiasm and confidence. This is true. It is also true is that without meaningful feedback to help us improve our performance, we will fail. Unless we develop the ability to learn from the kernels of truth in constructive feedback, we will never reach our potential. Maybe you could drive more carefully, be more effective in how you perform your job and respond to customers. If you don’t develop the ability to learn from the feedback you receive, you will never learn and grow.
So here’s a question to consider, which do you think is most common being buried by criticism or learning from feedback? My answer is: most people don’t learn from the feedback they receive. You must distinguish between the feedback that has nothing helpful in it and the feedback you can learn from. Ask these questions: what part of this could be true? What part of this can I learn from? How can this feedback help me develop a firmer foundation? After you take that information in and learn all you can from it, be willing to shake it off. Shake off the feedback that’s given out of frustration, jealousy, impatience, or fear. You will reach more of your personal potential and you’ll be happier along the way.
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