Strong Back Feedback…For The Brave Only
Brené Brown quotes in her book Braving The Wilderness a piece from Roshi Joan Halifax:
“All too often our so-called strength comes from fear, not love; instead of having a strong back, many of us have a defended front shielding a weak spine. In other words, we walk around brittle and defensive, trying to conceal our lack of confidence. If we strengthen our backs, metaphorically speaking, and develop a spine that’s flexible but sturdy, then we can risk having a front that’s soft and open… How can we give and accept care with strong back, soft front compassion, moving past fear into a place of genuine tenderness? I believe it comes about when we can be truly transparent, seeing the world clearly – and letting the world see into us. “
Recently I asked for some personal feedback on a global consulting forum that I have been part of for years. I chose to be transparent and vulnerable. It took courage to do it as I risked getting a ‘virtual slap.’ The response from many of my colleagues was insightful, encouraging and yes, I got slapped. I didn’t take everything on board but overall it was extremely beneficial and needed.
The strange thing is …we think that in order to be strong we need to demonstrate that we have it all together. We think that we are more effective having that ‘defended front shield’ as per the above quote where in actual fact, it can seriously undermine our personal growth, human connections and our leadership effectiveness.
Feedback From Others
When I used to take my kids on regular date nights I would often ask: “what would you like me to stop doing, do less of or do more of?” They ALWAYS gave me feedback and often remind me of it now that they are older.
Asking the people that you lead to provide feedback on your leadership and on how the organisation can run more effectively can be incredibly insightful – but it takes a brave soul to do that.
Dropping our guard with close friends or a significant other, allowing them into our personal worlds – our fears, our challenges, our hopes and aspirations – while sometimes a scary process can promote personal connection significantly. Asking for their perspective can help us see things that we are blinded to.
The more teachable we are; the more we ask for objective insight and feedback; the more we drop our defensive fearful guards – the faster progression takes place at both an organisational and a personal level. The connections we have with the people we love and we lead will be significantly enhanced and there will be a sense of ‘team’, not the isolation that comes from walking with an impenetrable front shield.
“Brené Brown again says it perfectly: “Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
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