Feedback – the Key to Knowing What We Don’t Know

Feedback is the growth food of great leaders.  Ken Blanchard, management expert and author, said: “It is the breakfast of champions.” It is the food that nourishes change. It is the key that unlocks the door to the dark closet of “We don’t know what we don’t know.” Feedback has no limitations. It is found in the impact of our words and the consequences actions and behaviors. Michael Gelb, author and public speaker specializing in creativity and innovation, wrote: “… there is not such things as failure, only feedback.”  It is a magnificent teacher.

In his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith shares a tool great leaders can use to give themselves feedback.  He learned from Nathaniel Brandon, eminent psychologist, his sentence completion technique. You pick one thing on which you want to improve.  He writes:

“It’s a simple exercise. “If I get in shape, I will… live longer.”  That’s one benefit.  Then keep doing it. “If I get in shape, then I’ll feel better about myself.” That’s two. “If I get in shape, I’ll be a role model for my family and friends.  And so on until you exhaust the benefits…. As the benefits you list become less expected and more personal and meaningful to you, that’s when you know that you’ve given yourself some valuable feedback.”

Warren Bennis, leadership author, speaks of the value of feedback: “Make sure you have someone in your life from whom you can get reflective feedback.”  The friends in life who care the most for us are those who care enough to help us know what we don’t know. Others, also, bring rich value through the diversity of their perspectives, the new worlds that they help us see. Seek out and embrace feedback. Grow beyond your wildest dreams, and become nourished by “the breakfast of champions.”

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