If you want to grow as a person or a professional, one of the best methods is through mentoring and coaching. The medium of of both metoring and coaching is feedback.
Feedback is communication that supports another person or a group to continuously improve their performance and to correct impediments to development.
A mentor or coach is someone who has demonstrated mastery in a particular field or endeavor and has the ability to transmit that mastery to another person through expert observation and feedback.
You would approach a mentor if you wanted to develop wisdom, strength of character and general effectiveness as a person. You would engage a coach when you are committed to skilling-up or being more effective in a particular discipline.
If you do engage a mentor or coach be sure you're prepared mentally and emotionally for accelerated growth. Many people think they want to grow but find themselves irritated and angry when they are forced to step outside of their comfort zone. That's where true growth takes place, in a zone beyond the status quo.
Constructive feedback educates the person being assessed about performance strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. It helps the recipient understand the difference between their intention and their impact. When that feedback comes from an objective and compassionate place, we are forced to take it in and look at it for what it is.
However, the comfort zone can be breached by constructive feedback. Many people bristle when they hear things that they don't like. They quickly defend against the feedback, dismiss it or try and deflect it through anger, humor or outright denial.
That kind of defensive behavior is usually an announcement that we lack the maturity to receive feedback as a gift. It may also indicate we have come to a mentor and coach for acceptance and approval rather than personal and professional growth.
Steve Podborsky, a world-class downhill skier and former "Crazy Canuck" taught me a lot about the proper use of feedback. I worked with Steve on several projects back in the eighties. His attitude to feedback was very healthy-he couldn't advance as an athlete or a person without it.
What is your relationship to feedback that you have solicited? Do you see it as a gift or a burden?
© Patrick O’Neill 2011. All rights reserved.