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7 Important Lessons You Won’t Learn From Reading

7 Important Lessons You Won’t Learn From Reading

It is the biggest paradox that I have ever faced, but I found the the most important lessons you can’t learn from reading in a book.

Couple of weeks ago I finished my book from Brian Tracy, No Excuses!: The Power of Self-discipline. There was a clear sentence that stated:

“…life is a test that shows what’s hiding inside of us. Wisdom is grasped by loneliness, learning, and thinking, but the character is built only by connection between people, when we are forced to choose between different opportunities and temptations.”

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1. Wisdom

I experienced a few months of loneliness, and this sentence felt like putting lens on a visually impaired person. It’s an overall statement that proves how the wisest people are the loneliest ones. Being around people all the time can build your character because of opportunities and temptations, but being wise takes time in solitude and makes you wonder and answer all types of questions on various subjects.

My loneliness made me wise. It made me think on various questions so deep that I found the core of the subject I was wondering about. Character, however, is something that can’t be built without the pressure of opportunities.

“The older the wiser” refers to the idea that older people spend more and more time alone, and thus discover rooted core answers to life’s big questions.

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2. Character

Character is defined as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” It’s the “vacuum part” in the brain where we can’t upgrade it alone; we must build our character with support from people and by making choices.

Wisdom and character are both authentic. They take being alone and wise, and being around people and building character. Wisdom is between the lines—learning and thinking—and character is built by people, “The thing that can’t be learned by reading.

Character growth is the most important thing in the world. Our ability to gain the reputation of being a characteristic and authentic person is the biggest attainment in social and business life. Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”

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3. Decisions

Our important features, the things that make us the way we are today, are the overall collection of all our previous choices and decisions. Every time we chose wisely and authentically, we strengthened our character and we became better people. It also states the opposite: whenever we compromised, whenever we took the easier way, or when we behaved in a way we knew was inappropriate, we weakened our character and we undermined ourselves.

4. Control the pressure.

Only when we are under pressure, when we need to decide on one possibility from many, to live in accordance with moral values or to comprise them—we present our real character. Emerson said, “Keep your loyalty like something sacred.” There is nothing as sacred as our intellectual loyalty.

5. The ability to choose.

We are the “organism that chose.” We choose all the time, one way or another. With every choice, we show our true values and priorities. In every particular moment, we give attention to the things that are more important and more valuable to us than the things that are less valuable.

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The only way to frame ourselves is to exert the will in every situation when we are tempting to do the things that are easy and currently useful, and not the things that are authentic and essential. It may be hard to push the boundaries to the level that we need to crack the wall of “easy and currently useful” but once we do it, it will throw a rock out of our soul and we are able to strive for authentic and essential things more and more.

It is like a habit. “The more we do it, the less we think about doing it.” Smoking cigarettes is bad example of it.

6. Learn the “street school.”

Authentic would be to go out and build the thing that can’t be read. It’s called the “street school.” Wisdom is inevitable, but wisdom alone is not worth anything without the things learned from people. Wisdom and “the street school” form a perfect creation of human kind. Such examples would be Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates.

7. Form the Virtues.

To seal the things that can’t be learned by reading, we must understand the virtues of one person: courage, compassion, generosity, moderation, persistence. Strengthen these virtues and become a man or woman of value.

Featured photo credit: Empty/Anthony via flickr.com

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Last Updated on June 3, 2020

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

We all crave constructive feedback. We want to know not just what we’re doing well but also what we could be doing better.

However, giving and getting constructive feedback isn’t just some feel-good exercise. In the workplace, it’s part and parcel of how companies grow.

Let’s take a closer look.

Why Constructive Feedback Is Critical

A culture of feedback benefits individuals on a team and the team itself. Constructive feedback has the following effects:

Builds Workers’ Skills

Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you come away from it feeling attacked—a key marker of destructive feedback—or did you feel like you learned something new?

Every time a team member learns something, they become more valuable to the business. The range of tasks they can tackle increases. Over time, they make fewer mistakes, require less supervision, and become more willing to ask for help.

Boosts Employee Loyalty

Constructive feedback is a two-way street. Employees want to receive it, but they also want the feedback they give to be taken seriously.

If employees see their constructive feedback ignored, they may take it to mean they aren’t a valued part of the team. Nine in ten employees say they’d be more likely to stick with a company that takes and acts on their feedback.[1]

Strengthens Team Bonds

Without trust, teams cannot function. Constructive feedback builds trust because it shows that the giver of the feedback cares about the success of the recipient.

However, for constructive feedback to work its magic, both sides have to assume good intentions. Those giving the feedback must genuinely want to help, and those getting it has to assume that the goal is to build them up rather than to tear them down.

Promotes Mentorship

There’s nothing wrong with a single round of constructive feedback. But when it really makes a difference is when it’s repeated—continuous, constructive feedback is the bread and butter of mentorship.

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Be the change you want to see on your team. Give constructive feedback often and authentically, and others will naturally start to see you as a mentor.

Clearly, constructive feedback is something most teams could use more of. But how do you actually give it?

How to Give Constructive Feedback

Giving constructive feedback is tricky. Get it wrong, and your message might fall on deaf ears. Get it really wrong, and you could sow distrust or create tension across the entire team.

Here are ways to give constructive feedback properly:

1. Listen First

Often, what you perceive as a mistake is a decision someone made for a good reason. Listening is the key to effective communication.

Seek to understand: how did the other person arrive at her choice or action?

You could say:

  • “Help me understand your thought process.”
  • “What led you to take that step?”
  • “What’s your perspective?”

2. Lead With a Compliment

In school, you might have heard it called the “sandwich method”: Before (and ideally, after) giving difficult feedback, share a compliment. That signals to the recipient that you value their work.

You could say:

  • “Great design. Can we see it with a different font?”
  • “Good thinking. What if we tried this?”

3. Address the Wider Team

Sometimes, constructive feedback is best given indirectly. If your comment could benefit others on the team, or if the person whom you’re really speaking to might take it the wrong way, try communicating your feedback in a group setting.

You could say:

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  • “Let’s think through this together.”
  • “I want everyone to see . . .”

4. Ask How You Can Help

When you’re on a team, you’re all in it together. When a mistake happens, you have to realize that everyone—not just the person who made it—has a role in fixing it. Give constructive feedback in a way that recognizes this dynamic.

You could say:

  • “What can I do to support you?”
  • “How can I make your life easier?
  • “Is there something I could do better?”

5. Give Examples

To be useful, constructive feedback needs to be concrete. Illustrate your advice by pointing to an ideal.

What should the end result look like? Who has the process down pat?

You could say:

  • “I wanted to show you . . .”
  • “This is what I’d like yours to look like.”
  • “This is a perfect example.”
  • “My ideal is . . .”

6. Be Empathetic

Even when there’s trust in a team, mistakes can be embarrassing. Lessons can be hard to swallow. Constructive feedback is more likely to be taken to heart when it’s accompanied by empathy.

You could say:

  • “I know it’s hard to hear.”
  • “I understand.”
  • “I’m sorry.”

7. Smile

Management consultancies like Credera teach that communication is a combination of the content, delivery, and presentation.[2] When giving constructive feedback, make sure your body language is as positive as your message. Your smile is one of your best tools for getting constructive feedback to connect.

8. Be Grateful

When you’re frustrated about a mistake, it can be tough to see the silver lining. But you don’t have to look that hard. Every constructive feedback session is a chance for the team to get better and grow closer.

You could say:

  • “I’m glad you brought this up.”
  • “We all learned an important lesson.”
  • “I love improving as a team.”

9. Avoid Accusations

Giving tough feedback without losing your cool is one of the toughest parts of working with others. Great leaders and project managers get upset at the mistake, not the person who made it.[3]

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You could say:

  • “We all make mistakes.”
  • “I know you did your best.”
  • “I don’t hold it against you.”

10. Take Responsibility

More often than not, mistakes are made because of miscommunications Recognize your own role in them.

Could you have been clearer in your directions? Did you set the other person up for success?

You could say:

  • “I should have . . .”
  • “Next time, I’ll . . .”

11. Time it Right

Constructive feedback shouldn’t catch people off guard. Don’t give it while everyone is packing up to leave work. Don’t interrupt a good lunch conversation.

If in doubt, ask the person to whom you’re giving feedback to schedule the session themselves. Encourage them to choose a time when they’ll be able to focus on the conversation rather than their next task.

12. Use Their Name

When you hear your name, your ears naturally perk up. Use that when giving constructive feedback. Just remember that constructive feedback should be personalized, not personal.

You could say:

  • “Bob, I wanted to chat through . . .”
  • “Does that make sense, Jesse?”

13. Suggest, Don’t Order

When you give constructive feedback, it’s important not to be adversarial. The very act of giving feedback recognizes that the person who made the mistake had a choice—and when the situation comes up again, they’ll be able to choose differently.

You could say:

  • “Next time, I suggest . . .”
  • “Try it this way.”
  • “Are you on board with that?”

14. Be Brief

Even when given empathetically, constructive feedback can be uncomfortable to receive. Get your message across, make sure there are no hard feelings, and move on.

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One exception? If the feedback isn’t understood, make clear that you have plenty of time for questions. Rushing through what’s clearly an open conversation is disrespectful and discouraging.

15. Follow Up

Not all lessons are learned immediately. After giving a member of your team constructive feedback, follow it up with an email. Make sure you’re just as respectful and helpful in your written feedback as you are on your verbal communication.

You could say:

  • “I wanted to recap . . .”
  • “Thanks for chatting with me about . . .”
  • “Did that make sense?”

16. Expect Improvement

Although you should always deliver constructive feedback in a supportive manner, you should also expect to see it implemented. If it’s a long-term issue, set milestones.

By what date would you like to see what sort of improvement? How will you measure that improvement?

You could say:

  • “I’d like to see you . . .”
  • “Let’s check back in after . . .”
  • “I’m expecting you to . . .”
  • “Let’s make a dent in that by . . .”

17. Give Second Chances

Giving feedback, no matter how constructive, is a waste of time if you don’t provide an opportunity to implement it. Don’t set up a “gotcha” moment, but do tap the recipient of your feedback next time a similar task comes up.

You could say:

  • “I know you’ll rock it next time.”
  • “I’d love to see you try again.”
  • “Let’s give it another go.”

Final Thoughts

Constructive feedback is not an easy nut to crack. If you don’t give it well, then maybe it’s time to get some. Never be afraid to ask.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Reference

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