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Last Updated on January 30, 2018

Why Every Successful Person Thrives on Negative Feedback

Why Every Successful Person Thrives on Negative Feedback

Have you ever made a mistake that could have been avoided if only you’d listened to someone else? We’ve all done it. Even large corporations mess up from time to time.

Take the cautionary tale of Facebook Home. Launched in April 2013, Facebook Home was billed as an application that would change the “look and feel” of a user’s phone. Specifically, it was designed as an app that would transform a user’s default phone screen into a Facebook wrapper. The idea was that users would be able to interact with Facebook any time without having to log in to an app.[1]

    Unfortunately, the app’s creators didn’t recognise that Android phones make extensive use of folders, widgets, and other components that the Facebook team overlooked.

    On the face of it, this seems surprising. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Facebook would have the technical knowledge required to build an app that works for Android. Yet, according to one theory, the team made an embarrassing error that proved to be their undoing. They focused on what would work for devices running iOS, not Android, simply because the team personally used iPhones.[2] Their perception was skewed in one direction only, meaning they overlooked the needs of many customers.

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    Getting feedback isn’t always fun, but is vital

    What could have averted the Facebook Home calamity? Two things would have made all the difference. First, regular testing across iOS and Android systems would have identified problems. Second, Facebook should have collected customer feedback as they developed the app.

    However, humans often have an innate aversion to criticism. We don’t like to be wrong, and even if criticism is constructive, we can experience it as a personal attack. In fact, our fear of criticism can lead us to blame external forces and other people for our mistakes. In other words, we make external attributions. We would rather blame luck, other people’s errors, and circumstances beyond our control rather than face the fact that we have made a mistake.

        In some cases, people become so closed off to outside input that they no longer consider anyone else’s perspective.[3] This often happens to leaders who have already enjoyed a degree of success, and have become overconfident as a result. Their power means that they can shut everyone else down, and fire people who don’t agree with their opinions and decisions. They reject other people’s feedback, and refuse to take criticism on board. This trap is called the Hubris Trap. It may be the biggest, most dangerous obstacle to effective leadership. [4]

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        The cost of avoiding criticism

          Someone who avoids criticism because they want to maintain their self-image as someone who is right risks stunting their personal and professional growth. When we deny personal responsibility and instead blame external factors for our failures, we are letting ourselves off the hook. If you don’t believe that your success lies within your own hands, you won’t be so inclined to put in the effort required to make your projects successful.

          If you don’t seek out criticism and feedback, your product or service is at risk of failure. Even if the product is of high quality, it will never be profitable if no one wants to buy it. It is possible to spend months or years developing a new product, only to see it flop because it has no audience. The consequences can be disastrous.

          Take Facebook Home as an example. Originally, Facebook had planned to charge users $99 for a two-year subscription, but due to a lack of demand, this price dropped to just $0.99 within a few weeks of its release. The company also had to restructure their company. In short, the Facebook Home team made a mistake that cost the company a considerable amount of money and effort.[5]

          Take criticism like an expert

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            Truly successful people know how to accept criticism without taking it as a personal attack. Their self-confidence means that they are comfortable evaluating feedback from others, and deciding whether to act on it. They do this without falling into the trap of assuming that a single negative experience or failure means that they themselves are beyond redemption.

            Get used to anticipating negative feedback

            There will always be someone out there who doesn’t like your work or your approach. The sooner you can get used to the idea that everyone is subjected to criticism and that it’s possible to be criticised and keep your self-esteem intact at the same time, the happier you will be. It’s OK to fail! Give yourself permission to get things wrong every now and then.

            Keeping your ego in check is difficult, but taking an objective look at a piece of criticism or feedback will benefit you in the long run. After all, how will you know where to begin improving yourself or your work otherwise? If you think about it, criticism is useful because it gives you actionable points. For example, “You did so well!” is less helpful than “Your presentation was good, but your speaking voice was a little too high.”

            Be aware though, some criticism is unhelpful. Check out this guide to help you decide whether someone’s feedback is sensible.

            Get feedback quickly

            You should aim to get feedback on your work and ideas as soon as possible. The sooner you get feedback, the sooner you can put things right! The Facebook Home team received feedback, but only after the product was launched. By then, it was too late. Just think of how much money, time and embarrassment they could have saved if they had asked their audience to trial the product before launching it.

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              There isn’t a successful person alive who hasn’t been on the receiving end of criticism at some point. If you are going to commit yourself to a project or business venture, you need to be prepared for negative feedback. However, as long as you know how to accept it, criticism needn’t hold you back. In fact, it can be the best gift you ever get!

              Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

              Reference

              More by this author

              Leon Ho

              Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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              Published on January 16, 2019

              How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

              How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

              We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

              You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

              You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

              That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

              Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

              1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

              Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

              We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

              To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

              At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

              The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

              2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

              Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

              The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

              In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

              It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

              It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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              So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

              • Are you a great strategist?
              • Are you an effective planner?
              • Is Project Management your strength?
              • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
              • Are you the ideas person?
              • Is Implementation your strength?

              Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

              3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

              One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

              Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

              Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

              Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

              4. Take Time for Planning

              “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

              One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

              You can take the time to think about:

              • What’s the purpose of the project?
              • How Important is it?
              • When does it need to be delivered by?
              • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
              • What are the KPIs?
              • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
              • Who is working on this project?
              • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
              • What tolerances can I add in?
              • What are the review stages?
              • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

              Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

              5. Focus on Priorities

              Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

              Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

              One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

              1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
              2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
              3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
              4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

              James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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                The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

                If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

                If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

                6. Take Time Out

                To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

                If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

                Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

                In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

                Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

                Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

                I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

                Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

                If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

                8. Stop Multitasking

                Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

                So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

                When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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                If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

                9. Work in Blocks of Time

                To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

                I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

                Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

                Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

                Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

                Then take another 10-minute break.

                Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

                By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

                10. Get Rid of Distractions

                Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

                “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

                Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

                If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

                11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

                You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

                Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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                Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

                12. Take a Time Audit

                Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

                Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

                You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

                Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

                Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

                At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

                If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

                13. Protect Your Confidence

                It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

                When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

                Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

                When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

                Final Words

                A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

                The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

                If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

                Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

                Reference

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