A while back I wrote a post on this site titled: Youngest Guy in the Room. In it I wrote about opportunities I was fortunate to receive and the challenges I felt being the less experienced, less wise, and at the same time, the most self-conscious and self-doubting person in the room. If only I were older and had more gray hair both literally and figuratively. Yet there I was.
Through my career I can remember with complete clarity the times when I received feedback so honest and pure it felt like getting smacked aside the head with a 2×4. Those moments when someone I trusted cut through all the bullshit and knocked the wind out of me with an insight and challenge that upon reflection made me a better leader and I hope a better person.
I get feedback, coaching, advice, and suggestions all the time. Some of it is helpful, some not so much. But there’s a massive difference in the type of ‘knock you on your ass’ feedback that materially shapes my thinking, behaviors, and who I aspire to be. That sort of feedback happens at irregular and unpredictable intervals, maybe every couple of years. And every time it comes from someone that tells it to me like it is, while also caring very personally about me without regard to his or her own agenda.
To improve something is to be transparent and truthful – while caring deeply and unselfishly about the outcome.