In business there is very little value in being told what we want to hear, as much as many people seem to thrive on it. We really grow the most, achieve the most and surprise ourselves the most when we are big enough to take honest feedback on board.
Take customer service as one simple example. From my experience, most people want to hear the good stuff, what is going well, or even what is just kind of getting by, but very few business owners want to hear direct and honest truth about whatever it is that isn't working. This is shown by the simple fact that often when we complain about something we end up having an argument with someone in the business simply because they don't want to hear the truth.
I know that as a professional speaker, it's very nice to get accolades and positive feedback from my audience, but after a while, it doesn't really help with the one thing that is so really important to me - getting better. I need feedback, honest feedback and constructive criticism that I can use to become the best speaker I can.
I need to be able to learn, to challenge myself and to learn from my mistakes. It's not that easy to pick that stuff up for ourselves at times. And what we don't see, someone else can see in a heartbeat.
Of course if you say you want that kind of feedback you need to be prepared to take it. Once again, a lot of people say they are, from my experience very few actually are. It does depend how this feedback is given - no one likes someone being attacking or just plain horrible for the sake of it.
To really grow, and become better at anything we do, but especially in our business, we need a five step approach -
- Be prepared to reach out for advice from people who are in a position to give it to us (and whose opinion we value).
- Learn to ask for this feedback in a way that you can use it.
- Be prepared to listen to the advice and feedback these people give.
- Learn from the advice and feedback we are given.
- Never stop asking for it.
When it comes to business, being open to being honest feedback about everything we do isn't just a luxury, it's absolutely essential.
Its really that simple, yet if we are honest with ourselves do we really want this kind of advice or do we just want to hear the good stuff? Can we handle the truth? An interesting question, and there have certainly been many times when I didn't want it, but as I get older I do because I know that is the best way for me to become the best version of myself, to build the best business I possibly can and to achieve every goal I want.