I have a love-hate relationship with feedback. I often hate to receive it AND I love that it is a super powerful tool. I suspect that some of this tension stems from not ever knowing exactly how I’m going to BE with receiving it. There seems to be a direct relationship with how close something is to my heart and how frightening feedback can be for me. To whit: how do I feel when I receive feedback on my accounting? Meh. Pretty low on the “threat level” colour spectrum…let’s say green. When I receive feedback on how we’re raising our daughter…hoo boy. Off the charts, ready to pounce, RED. How I’m running my business? Let’s say lower than how we’re doing with daughter but still high. Orange, if you will.

At my very, VERY worst, I become petulant, defensive and a bit sullen. My ego is bruised and I get sulky. I make excuses and suspect my chin juts out. Worst of all, I shut down and stop receiving what is being offered to me.

And that’s the sin. Feedback is by definition FEEDING you. Nurturing you. So that you can grow, expand and maybe even improve. It is a gift to be cherished, appreciated, admired and held. One that you ASKED for.

The trick, I am finding, is in recognizing that feedback isn’t a law to be adhered to. YOU GET TO CHOOSE WHAT YOU WANT TO INCORPORATE. Unless the person offering you feedback is a complete ass, they likely have your best interest in mind…and YET…are presenting with their own experience, knowledge and perspective. Their own fears, concerns and saboteurs may be showing up. What they are sharing with you is an amalgam of what THEY PERCEIVE to be the truth. And it may or may not be true for you. You are in choice. As ever.

A recent Daily Om validated this…when I needed it most.

Our own sense of the truth is the most important piece when taking in information from external sources.

You get to be the ULTIMATE AUTHORITY. That is some resonant stuff, right there, boy. I like that a lot.

When I am at my best with receiving feedback, I notice the twinges of defensiveness. I pause and listen for what’s underneath the resistance…is it ego? Is it what I’ve known I’ve had to do for a long time and haven’t had the courage to face? Then, I breathe. And listen some more. Then pause. Then thank the person for doing the hard, truth-telling thing. I then reflect on their gift and incorporate what I CHOOSE. (Added bonus: if I’ve really played my cards right, that person who has just given of themselves becomes an ally; a resource to continue to provide their wisdom as I refine, improve and expand).

I saw this in action last week. I was invited to sit on a panel and hear a group of young entrepreneurs present their business plans. My role was simply to provide feedback from a potential client’s perspective.

What struck me was not only to wide array of talent and skill in front of me, but the elegance and poise in which they heeded our feedback. Regardless of how their financials were prodded, their marketing plans poked and their distribution channels were scrutinized, there was no defensiveness, no “yeah buts” and only appreciation for the immersed learning. They GOT it.

Thank you, for being a reminder of grace and gratitude to:

Krystal – Her artistic sensibility comes through not just in her stunning ceramic work but also her photography, drawings and blog.

Tanya - The courageous, truth-telling poet who lives and hugs just like my mama taught me to: heart-to-heart. No other way counts.

Aileen – A designer whose work is affordable, accessible and as lovely as she is (I’ve referred her several times in the past week already).

Sarah – A hand knit artwear and jewellery designer whose whimsical and stunning work is getting around (sidebar: I intend to sport her wares in my first TV interview…stay tuned).

Stephanie – A jewellery designer who creates hand-made lampwork glass beads herself. Her work is weighty and substantial.

Julie – A super-polished business woman with the heart and soul of an artist, she co-owns an aerial-dance cirque company (how cool is THAT?).

Esther – A self-taught painter who you NEED to discover before her work is ten-fold the current price. And even then it will be well worth it.

Final thank you of this post goes to Lisa, for giving me some feedback on how I receive feedback. Received, integrated and well, WELL appreciated.