My heart is like an open book (the gift of feedback)

After having far too much fun with my partners in crime over a meal that would make even Jamie Oliver proud (thank you, Sister), I found myself in an unexpected position. Thank you, friends, for prompting me to talk about the story I'd been flirting with over the past month. It was actually the first time I'd attempted vocalising the smoky threads of this piece, and I don't think it was a complete disaster! It's one thing to nurse the nugget of an idea in your hands, but once you've shared it with another mind, it's suddenly become more.

It's exciting to pose an idea and have people mount posts on your foundation with informed considerations like, "If you're dealing with issue A, have you thought about the implications of Z?"

It harkens me back to one of the most critical lessons I learned as a business analyst, but since found applicable in every forum: feedback is a gift.

It's one of the toughest lessons to internalise, but easier once we accept that the purpose of constructive feedback is to improve. At the end of the day, we are ultimately responsible for how we choose to use our feedback; if it breaks us down or builds us up. When we seek and receive constructive feedback from a source that we trust, it's key to remember those comments reflect only on the idea, not on our integrity for posing them in the first place.

Articles on How to Give Good Feedback (Fast Company) and specific guidance on the Characteristics of Good Feedback (Express Yourself to Success) highlight that valuable feedback is as much about what you say as how you deliver it.

I'm flattered and humbled by the respect people demonstrate when they share their honest opinions on my work - comments that are are only designed to broaden my thinking and help mould the final product into the best possible form. When it comes to creative work, I think that, for the majority, authors and artists seldom reach that final state of perfection; they just run out of time to tweak and edit.

It's my philosophy that we never stop learning, no matter our age or years of experience in any field. There are always fresh ways to look at or think around a problem, but those alternative angles are harder to see without fresh insight.

Feedback is a gift: identify what you could improve, and also what you're doing right, so you can keep that up.

Although I'm not turbo-charged yet, I have the fuel I needed to affirm I still want to write this story - even after the terrifying experience of sharing it with people I trust and respect. Thank you for that.

Now just don't let me wuss out.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012