This is How You Miss Your Biggest Opportunity for Success

Everything is feedback. Your complete life is feedback. Your bank account is feedback. Your relationship is feedback. Your career is feedback. All the results you get in your life is feedback. All of that is telling you something. You have to open your eyes, get the message. Let it sink in.

I have the feeling that the average person hates receiving feedback. This is a recipe for disaster. I admit that sometimes, I have a difficult time receiving feedback as well. Sometimes, a person discards the complete post, gets triggered by a sentence, and posts a negative comment. In theory, there’s nothing wrong with that. They have all the right to do that.

Welcome Feedback

If you want to succeed, be open to feedback. Welcome it. Thank people for their feedback. Show them that you’re going to do something about it. In reality, the opposite happens. Instead of appreciating feedback, we either ignore it or we get angry and start criticizing the person who gives the feedback. As a result that person stops giving us feedback. This is a huge loss for us.

I used to hate the peer review process when I was working towards my PhD. Every negative review I received to my work meant I’ll receive my degree later. Who wants that? But my attitude towards feedback change since then.

Now, I welcome feedback. When I consider making an investment, I discuss it with a friend. I even publish my game plan online and open it up for criticism. That way I can receive feedback about it and I can gauge in advance if it’s a good or a bad idea. That prevents me lose time and money down the road.

What is a worse outcome? Being ridiculed for an idea or investing my time and money in an idea that fails down the road? I prefer the first one. Unfortunately, this is not how many people think. People immediately get defensive and shut down when they receive feedback. That is a loss of huge opportunity, not only for that instance, but also for future, because they will not receive valuable feedback from that person.

Be the first one to admit that you’re wrong and carry on with your life. That’s the fastest way to succeed in life.

Invite Feedback

Build a mastermind group to discuss ideas and receive feedback. I know most introverted IT people hate this idea, but give it a try. At least once.

Ask people for their feedback. When you explain them an idea, ask for their opinion instead of pushing your idea to them. We intuitively assume that the more we push our idea to others, the more they are going to accept it. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The more you push your ideas to others, the more they will shut down and reject your ideas. Try to work as a salesperson for a day and see how that works out. The approach that works the best is to ask the opinion of the other person and to see what their objections are and then to counter those objections.

Of course, it make sense to counter the objections of your peers only if your arguments make more sense than theirs. If they come up with credible objections, you’re better off letting that idea go. That’s why you ask for feedback in the first place.

You have two choices. You either save your ego and reject the feedback or you accept the feedback, make use of it, and make progress in your life.

Ask people to kill your ideas, before the reality kills your ideas. It’s much less painful. Kill ideas as soon as possible by making small tests.

Pitfalls

There are two pitfalls when processing feedback. First, you should able to distinguish constructive criticism from malicious attack. You might be criticized by your competitors and that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are attacking you with malicious intent.

No matter where the feedback comes from, ask yourself the following question. “Does this feedback have a grain of truth?” If it does, it’s a legitimate feedback and you should take it into account no matter where it comes from, even if it comes from your most vicious enemy.

If a feedback doesn’t have a grain of truth, you should discard it as malicious, no matter where it comes from. Sometimes, people who love us give us positive feedback that they don’t believe in just to make us feel good. That is malicious feedback as well.

In order to distinguish genuine feedback from malicious feedback, you need to cultivate the skill of discerning the truth from falsehood, which is the only skill you need to succeed in life

The second pitfall is that it takes time until an idea works out in reality. You might start a business and it might take years until your business takes off. This is how the reality works. Quantum leaps are preceded by long, painful plateaus.

When you’re on a plateau and don’t see any progress for a long time, you might take that as feedback, quit that endeavor, and miss a quantum leap. That plateau might also remain as a plateau for the rest of the time without any potential payoff down the road. Again the skill of discerning from falsehood is the only skill to distinguish these scenarios from each other. And sometimes it all comes down to making a decision.

Conclusion

In either case, be open to feedback, welcome it, and invite it. Treat everything, all the results in your life as feedback. Make use of feedback for course correction. Cultivate the skill of discerning truth from falsehood to determine what is genuine feedback and what is malicious, misleading feedback.

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.