It’s easy to be grateful when you receive compliments because they validate who we are, who we want to be. Positive feedback feels good. And some people believe that we should only be giving encouraging, appreciative feedback. However, while positive feedback is satisfying, it doesn’t always help us get to where we want to be.
To succeed, we must be willing to hear what works and what could make us even more effective. For example, for a business to thrive and be financially stable, it must be open to continued examination of its assets and liabilities. And, in order for a business to see it so clearly, it needs to hire outside consultants. It is the same with us. The key is to select someone we trust to tell us the truth.
When we see ourselves clearly, we gain a greater sense of freedom because our character defects can, and do control us. The more we deny their existence, the more control they have. Self-knowledge can also free us from secrets. We are sick as our secrets, as the saying goes. The more secrets we keep the more imprisoned we feel, the more our character defects surface. Finally, self-knowledge enhances our ability to love others. The more willing we are to receive feedback, the more human we can become. The more human we can become, the more we can connect with the humanity of others.
There are many reasons for not wanting to know the truth. Perhaps were afraid of what we might find, or we are afraid people will judge us. Maybe we have an investment in maintaining a certain image, or we’re afraid people won’t like us once they know who we are. So how do we get past the obstacles? We can take action by the following steps:
- Do an inventory of your personal strengths and weaknesses.
- Ask for feedback from friends and co-workers.
- Identify conflicts with others and ask, “what part did I play?”
- When someone gives your feedback or criticism, ask yourself, “could what they say be true?”
So, let’s take your inventory. Let’s begin with your strengths. Identify six of your strengths; these are traits that make you likable, productive, and effective as a parent, spouse, employee, or friend. Sometimes we are afraid to admit things we do well, for fear someone will think we are conceited. No one will read this but you, so don’t worry. Just to it!
Next identify six of your challenges: these are traits that, improved, would make you even more effective than you already are. Be honest as you can. Everyone has areas that need improvement.
Thereafter you are invited to really step outside of your comfort zone and solicit feedback from others. No doubt this one is of the most courageous things you’ll ever do. You will get valuable information about how to be the best you can be, and you will get to walk through your fear.
By now you’re getting a better sense of yourself, and for a moment, you might even start to think you’re the worst person in the world. Well, you’re not; you’re just a work in progress. Don’t let your feelings get in the way of the work to be done. Today is your opportunity to improve. Think of two things you continue to become more effective than you already are. Now go do them.