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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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              Last Updated on June 3, 2020

              How to Write SMART Goals (With SMART Goals Templates)

              How to Write SMART Goals (With SMART Goals Templates)

              Everyone needs a goal. Whether it’s in a business context or for personal development, having goals help you strive towards something you want to accomplish. It prevents you from wandering around aimlessly without a purpose.

              But there are good ways to write goals and there are bad ways. If you want to ensure you’re doing the former, keep reading to find out how a SMART goals template can help you with it.

              The following video is a summary of how you can write SMART goals effectively:

              What Are SMART Goals?

              SMART Goals

              refer to a way of writing down goals that follow a specific criteria. The earliest known use of the term was by George T. Doran in the November 1981 issue of Management Review, however, it is often associated with Peter Drucker’s management by objectives concept.[1]

              SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. There are other variations where certain letters stand for other things such as “achievable” instead of attainable, and “realistic” instead of relevant.

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              What separates a SMART goal from a non-SMART goal is that, while a non-SMART goal can be vague and ill-defined, a SMART goal is actionable and can get you results. It sets you up for success and gives you a clear focus to work towards.

              And with SMART goals comes a SMART goals template. So, how do you write according to this template?

              How to Write Smart Goals Using a SMART Goals Template

              For every idea or desire to come to fruition, it needs a plan in place to make it happen. And to get started on a plan, you need to set a goal for it.

              The beauty of writing goals according to a SMART goals template is that it can be applied to your personal or professional life.

              If it’s your job to establish goals for your team, then you know you have a lot of responsibility weighing on your shoulders. The outcome of whether or not your team accomplishes what’s expected of them can be hugely dependant on the goals you set for them. So, naturally, you want to get it right.

              On a personal level, setting goals for yourself is easy, but actually following through with them is the tricky part. According to a study by Mark Murphy about goal setting, participants who vividly described their goals were 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully achieve their goals.[2] Which goes to show that if you’re clear about your goals, you can have a higher chance of actually accomplishing them.

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              Adhering to a SMART goals template can help you with writing clear goals. So, without further ado, here’s how to write SMART goals with a SMART goals template:

              Specific

              First and foremost, your goal has to be specific. Be as clear and concise as possible because whether it’s your team or yourself, whoever has to carry out the objective needs to be able to determine exactly what it is they are required to do.

              To ensure your goal is as specific as it can be, consider the Ws:

              • Who = who is involved in executing this goal?
              • What = what exactly do I want to accomplish?
              • Where = if there’s a fixed location, where will it happen?
              • When = when should it be done by? (more on deadline under “time-bound”)
              • Why = why do I want to achieve this?

              Measurable

              The only way to know whether or not your goal was successful is to ensure it is measurable. Adding numbers to a goal can help you or your team weigh up whether or not expectations were met and the outcome was triumphant.

              For example, “Go to the gym twice a week for the next six months” is a stronger goal to strive for than simply, “Go to the gym more often”.

              Setting milestone throughout your process can also help you to reassess progress as you go along.

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              Attainable

              The next important thing to keep in mind when using a SMART goals template is to ensure your goal is attainable. It’s great to have big dreams but you want your goals to be within the realms of possibility, so that you have a higher chance of actually accomplishing them.

              But that doesn’t mean your goal shouldn’t be challenging. You want your goal to be achievable while at the same time test your skills.

              Relevant

              For obvious reasons, your goal has to be relevant. It has to align with business objectives or with your personal aspirations or else, what’s the point of doing it?

              A SMART goal needs to be applicable and important to you, your team, or your overall business agenda. It needs to be able to steer you forward and motivate you to achieve it, which it can if it holds purpose to something you believe in.

              Time-Bound

              The last factor of the SMART goals template is time-bound (also known as “timely”). Your goal needs a deadline, because without one, it’s less likely to be accomplished.

              A deadline provides a sense of urgency that can motivate you or your team to strive towards the end. The amount of time you allocate should be realistic. Don’t give yourself—or your team—only one week if it takes three weeks to actually complete it. You want to set a challenge but you don’t want to risk over stress or burn out.

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              Benefits of Using a SMART Goals Template

              Writing your goals following a SMART goals template provides you with a clearer focus. It communicates what the goal needs to achieve without any fuss.

              With a clear aim, it can give you a better idea of what success is supposed to look like. It also makes it easier to monitor progress, so you’re aware whether or not you’re on the right path.

              It can also make it easier to identify bottlenecks or missed targets while you’re delivering the goal. This gives you enough time to rectify any problems so you can get back on track.

              The Bottom Line

              Writing goals is seemingly not a difficult thing to do. However, if you want it to be as effective as it can be, then there’s more to it than meets the eye.

              By following a SMART goals template, you can establish a more concrete foundation of goal setting. It will ensure your goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound—attributes that cover the necessities of an effectively written goal.

              More Tips About Goals Setting

              Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

              Reference

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