When it comes to the Olympic games, I prefer to watch winter sports over summer. I know that might seem strange coming from such a summer sport dominant country but I think it might be the foreignness of winter sports that draws my attention. These athletes who don’t only perform at the peak level but do so in sometimes crippling conditions is astounding.
One thing that catches my attention me about athletes, regardless of sport, is their ability to seek and receive feedback.
For the last 15 years, can you guess the primary focus of every Olympic athlete?
Practise? Wrong. It’s actually ‘deliberate practise’.
There’s a mistaken idea that practice makes perfect. It doesn’t. Perfect practice makes perfect.
Can you imagine an Olympic athlete hiring a coach with the following admonition: “I only want you to tell me the good things I’m doing. I don’t want opportunities for improvement. I don’t want corrections. Just reinforce the good things.”
That is completely unreasonable!
The reality is, great athletes do something many of us don’t even think about. They intentionally seek, get, and use feedback.
Instead of seeking feedback, most of us wait until someone gives it to us. Then many of us don’t use the feedback once we have it….
So how can we learn from these world-class athletes?
Every Olympic athlete knows that each constructive piece of information matters.
They think, “If you tell me to lower my centre of gravity and tuck my elbow in, I may take a thousandth of a second off my time. That could be the difference in standing on the podium with a medal and going home empty-handed.”
Understanding that feedback is valuable is not just true in the world of sports. It’s also true in the corporate world.
Several years ago, I received a phone call from the CEO of a hospital that had been voted the “hospital of the decade”.
Their patient satisfaction and employee engagement scores were off the charts. They were clearly successful, but the CEO told me, “While we have accomplished incredible things, there is nothing that fails like success. I’d like you to spend a day teaching my team to understand how to give and receive feedback.”
Those are two separate skills.
- How do you give feedback
- How do you receive feedback
Both are crucial. When you withhold feedback from others, you are withholding their future. When you fail to use the feedback given to you, you fail to be your best, if you remove your emotions from results you can get a deeper understanding of where to improve. Strive to seek and receive feedback.