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How Studying Highly Successful People Makes You Highly Successful

How Studying Highly Successful People Makes You Highly Successful

As babies we learn to crawl, walk, eat and talk by modeling or watching others.  This idea of studying others through conscious observance is the best method for achieving success. Simply put: we are what we do. Some of the most influential people in my life, who have trained me to become the independent person I am today, are successful people I’ve never even met. Here are seven ways you can learn from others who are highly successful.

1. Learn to never pity yourself.

Liz Murray defeated the odds that were against her. From a child of drug-addicted parents to a homeless Harvard student, Murray rose to become an international speaker and author. Her story came to me through a Lifetime documentary called “Homeless to Harvard,” and the strength of Murray’s spirit encouraged me. I cried during the movie thinking about what it must have taken by way of intestinal fortitude to get her high school diploma. She then progressed to the level of what many consider highly successful.

After watching, I researched the woman in an attempt to learn why she had the ability to succeed where others like her deteriorated into self-pity. I saw the strength of her determination to get what she knew she deserved. I learned never to pity myself. One day I too may inspire even just one person.

2. Learn to scream in an empty room, but whisper in an auditorium.

Since the early ‘90s the progressive rock band Tool has been growing a strong following, but the band only released one E.P. and four full-length albums total as of 2014. Watching and studying the front man, Maynard James Keenan, has tuned me into some keen business decisions. The first of which is marketing.

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Keenan said during interviews that an auditorium full of people will quiet to hear a whisper. Once an entertainer or a leader speaks loudly enough (screaming in an almost empty room) the message will carry, but to maintain the level of interest one needs to back off and let the audience clamor for more. The concept of whispering in an auditorium shows true insight to the factors that make someone interesting and therefore successful.

Readers may not know that Keenan started Tool on a dare, but a quick Internet search will prove that this one man took an idea and ran with it. He greatly improved the sense of what it takes to make it as an independent musician (and now wine maker).

3. Learn the importance of networking.

Ben Franklin has been called “The First American” and what his model teaches is one of networking. At his core, Franklin understood human nature, psychology and marketing. Perhaps because he came from blue-collar roots, Franklin understood not only himself but also his community. He wrote as well as published the famous Pennsylvania Gazette.

Though Franklin didn’t overcome the kind of debilitating struggles that Murray did, and though he wasn’t promoting a true creative project, like a band, what he did showed triumph over the economic and political scene of a country still finding itself. When one man can find himself in a country that hasn’t yet settled on what it is, that is inspirational.

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4. Learn the meaning of being true to yourself.

When I think of a true leader and a true independent spirit who has inspired me to be successful, I think of and study from folk singer and guitar player Ani DiFranco.

I named my cat after Ani because her success came as a result of fierce hard work. To my knowledge DiFranco wasn’t abandoned in the wild, forced to fend for food among literal wolves. But, as a female songwriter in a predominantly male-run business, she cloaked herself and persevered until she had the success and the guts to shake off her mask and sing out from her soul.

After watching DiFranco release album after album, I take so much stock of her ceaseless energy. The only times she didn’t release at least an album a year, complete with tour, is when she had her babies. I know in February 2012 she played on an Atlanta stage with unborn baby rocking in her belly.

One of the single most inspirational things about DiFranco’s success is how she not once stooped to plastic surgery. Her varying hairstyles and sensible makeup never portrayed an ounce of pretentiousness. Aging with grace is something DiFranco shows to all the females who pay attention.

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5. Learn to live in the moment.

Living in the moment truly is a difficult task because humans, by design,stress and fret about the future. The one successful individual who most comes to mind when I think of how I’ve mirrored this attitude is Dan Millman. A former world champion athlete, university coach, and college professor, Millman wrote the book “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” as fiction but based on many of his real-life experiences. The movie adaptation struck me as a solid lesson in living life on life’s terms.

When we quiet the bustle of the day, we can hear the buzzing of the bees, and we live in the moment. Life is beautiful and no amount of stressful striving can replace the success that comes from enjoying the life we each have.

6. Take time to truly listen.

A successful person doesn’t necessarily need to be a famous or wealthy individual. Taking the time to listen to those who are successful in love, those who are educated and those with experience can provide the best lessons of all. A grandparent, a parent and even a teacher or coach can have the most impact on your success.

In taking the time to listen you learn how others overcame their struggles, whether from fighting oppression or learning from poor decisions. When we study those who are successful we learn from their mistakes and avoid having to learn everything the hard way.

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7. Take calculated risks known as investments.

Many students blindly register for and attend expensive universities, colleges and graduate schools because they think that a piece of paper means more opportunity for success. Look around at those who actually graduate and become successful; following those patterns will help you become successful as well.

Education is expensive, but not as expensive as ignorance. Thinking critically and modeling others will nearly ensure success because the first step involves understanding what you want. One cannot become successful without trying. Even the examples of individuals who seemingly became overnight sensations had a team of people working toward that goal.

In educating yourself, choose a mentor to study. Take notes from that person and how he or she spends time and budgets money. Through studying others who have achieved success, it is possible to become successful.

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Ellen Eldridge

Ellen is a passionate journalist. She shares her everyday life tips at Lifehack.

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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.

More on Constructive Feedback

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

Reference

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