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When’s the last time someone pointed out what you were doing right? Not just “good job.” I mean, specifically and in detail something you did really, really well.

Ok. And when’s the last time someone pointed out an error you made, or a change you might consider, or ways to improve what you’ve done? Probably 30 seconds ago.

I believe that most feedback comes from good intention. They think they’re helping when they point out what’s wrong, because that way you can be better.

The problem, as Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall wrote in their HBR cover story this spring, “The Feedback Fallacy,” is that traditional feedback is flawed. Deeply. And it doesn’t do what you think it will do.

“People don’t need feedback,” the authors write. “They need attention to what they do best.”

You wouldn’t believe the pushback I hear on this. People LOVE their criticism. We so want to believe we’re right about what needs fixing. And maybe we are!

Part of the problem is we dive into criticism too soon—right at the tender moment when we’re risking new ideas, new efforts. And criticism can seriously tamp down your creativity.

But part of it is just that we assume that what’s working is so obvious we don’t need to pay attention to it.

That’s incorrect. Because often we DON’T know what we’re doing right. We’re all so focused on not messing up! We’re out there tiptoeing around landmines, which ties up a lot of our bandwidth, making it hard to do, well, much of anything else.

How helpful is positive feedback? Maybe at least just as helpful as negative? Maybe two times, five times as effective? Try again.

“Positive attention is 30x more powerful than negative attention in creating high performance on a team,” say Buckingham and Goodall.

Think this is some special snowflake stuff? Some kind of everyone-gets-a-trophy tactic that panders to weakness and a need for acceptance?

Wrong again.

I’ve seen what happens when you take a group of smart, successful professionals of all stripes who’ve spent a lifetime avoiding criticism, and put them in a room with new groundrules and expectations, and no fear of criticism. .

What they create blows me away, every time.

I was so excited about the HBR article because it confirms what I have seen and learned as a Gateless trained facilitator. Gateless is a methodology, an approach to creative work (read: any work), designed to quiet the critic so that you can tap your own potential—for creativity, big ideas, all of it.

We write to a prompt and share that work out loud—and what you hear back from the group is what is specifically working and why. It retrains the mind to see what’s working in others’ work, so you can see it in your own. It challenges habitual ways of thinking, and can catapult your work forward.

What does Gateless feedback sound like? Take a listen.

My fellow Gateless teacher Becky Karush has a podcast that’s based on the Gateless method. It’s called Read to Me: The Podcast to Listen for What We Love, and each week she takes a piece of work, ranging from song lyrics to classic works to modern authors, and shares a short passage, and then does a Gateless “read” on it.

This episode features a very fun mashup of Taylor Swift and our colleague Cass McCrory, a digital marketing strategist who shared something quite personal from her own life.

The reason I point it out to you now is because Cass wrote it in about 15 minutes in my Pop Up Story Salon in NYC in August. She wrote it, read it, and we all fell in love. You will too (listen to that episode here).

It just goes to how what can happen when you give yourself TIME to write and ATTENTION to what you do best.

Try it today. Go around and point out specifically what people are doing well. All day. All week if you like. Then, see what happens.

(…If this sounds like fun, btw, I’m running another Pop Up Salon in NYC WED 12/4/19. Learn more about it + hold your spot here. )

 

When’s the last time someone listened to you. I mean, really listened.

Like, you could tell they were right there with you.

It’s rare, to have someone’s attention like that.

Even right now, I only have a share of your attention. And I’m holding on to it for dear life. 

Why? Because someone’s talking over your shoulder, your texts are going off like crazy, and you’re debating whether you should go get a coffee or not (I vote yes. YES TO COFFEE.)

I bring it up, about people listening, this because lately I’ve been doing a lot of speaking and speaking ABOUT speaking (solo presenter and moderator trainings), and to me it always comes down to this:

Attention is the MOST expensive resource we have. And if you want someone to pay you with it, you better earn it. 

When you get on stage (or on screen, or at the front of the room) your job is to give people a reason why they should KEEP PAYING YOU with their attention.

Ask yourself, why should someone listen to me, and what am I doing to earn that attention? 

It’s one of the things I’m thinking about as I prepare to speak to the women execs and emerging leaders at Hearst this week (which I’m very excited about).

And if your answer to that question is, “Because I have important information to share,”—well, I think you can do even better.

Going in with info is the low bar.

I say aim higher: Go in not just to give information, but to change their minds. 

Yes. EVEN if they didn’t know there was anything to change their minds about.

For instance, I give a keynote based on my TEDx talk, “Stop searching for your passion.” The assumption I’m working with here is that people DO think that if they followed their passions, they’d be happier, and then they worry that they haven’t picked the right passion or missed it altogether.

I start there, and overturn the idea, showing them how flawed it is, and why it’s profoundly unhelpful.

Anytime you get up to say your piece, a host of invisible obstacles, assumptions, anxiety, all kinds of clutter, get in the way. So the first job is to dismantle that stuff so that the path is clear. 

That is the critical heavy lifting for ANY public speaking effort.  Not just knowing why you’re there, but what this audience believes and how your insights can affect, or even overturn, that belief. That’s how to meet them where they are.

This has never, ever steered me wrong—but it’s a step most people skip.

ALSO, 3 GOINGS TO SHARE…

1. DO SOMETHING COOL!

> POP-UP STORY SALON in DC AREA | Thurs 11/7, 9:00-5:00: I’m running a live, in person Pop Up Story Salon—ideal for business owners, execs, entrepreneurs, speakers, writers, marketers—anyone who wishes to God they had a few hours to think clearly and go deep into their own work, instead of putting out fires all day. Find out more + reserve your spot.

 

2. SEE SOMETHING FUNNY!

SUBTEXT: A Comedy Show in NYC | Sat 11/9 doors at 6:30pm: This new show, produced by Jenn Lederer and featuring Jenn, me, and Marla Schultz, blends storytelling, stand-up, and text-message mishaps for a fun, dynamic night of comedyTickets + info here.  (Also, I don’t usually post comedy shows to you on this list, but if you want to know about shows, hit reply and tell me to add you to that comedy list specifically.)


3. WRITE SOMETHING AMAZING 

>> SIX MONTH SPRINT (virtual) | Deadline, Fri 11/8: If you wish you could get more writing done for work or for life, and wish you had a tribe to share that work with and gain some momentum around it, this might be a fit. Starting in November, we hit the ground writing, with 12 sessions plus 1:1 attention on your work. We are religious about content, but platform agnostic. Take a look at the Sprint and see if this sounds fun. I’m here if you have questions.