The Fruits of Coaching

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Why Aren't Feedback and Guidance Embraced?

Of all the interesting things in the world of consultation and coaching, the one that intrigues me the most is the resistance to receiving feedback. Almost everywhere I have provided such services, the norm is not only inadequate feedback, but great reluctance on the part of many to be provided with feedback.

Now, let’s think this through. If parents, relatives, neighbors, coaches, ministers, counselors, police, friends, and countless others had failed to give you feedback, you would not be functional as an adult in the world. Everything from someone teaching you to stay out of the street, to letting you know when your behavior was offensive, to guiding you toward the best possible realization of your potential has had an impact on who you are today.

And yet, we become adults and professionals who are often resistant to getting further feedback. How ridiculous! We should all be clamoring for guidance. It is a magic elixir for all of us, even if it is not done as effectively as we might like. Poorly conceived feedback is better than none. And effective feedback is best of all.

I often tell people I owe a great debt to my first employer, GE, who hired me right out of college, trained me extensively for nearly four years as a future leader, then provided me with steady, progressive positions to increase my portfolio of skills and experience until I left at the ten-year mark. Nearly weekly, and formally about once a quarter for those first four years, then twice a year thereafter, I was the beneficiary of an incredibly valuable array of feedback. It was never comfortable, even when it was delivered effectively, but they were more committed to my growth and development than they were to my comfort. And besides that, I am convinced nothing of notable value will be learned in our comfort zones.

Today, I am extremely aware that who I am is the product of a huge investment in me that spans six decades and continues to this day from my mentors and coaches, clients via evaluations of services and deliverables, and some of the groups to which I belong. I remain a work in progress. Thankfully and gratefully.

I had a chance to gain a different vantage on this in the past few weeks as I have met with several of the people for whom I have been a mentor, advisor and coach for as much as ten years. For whatever reason, each of these sessions resulted in feedback to me about what they have learned as a result of my investment in them. They thanked me for “being one of the best teachers in my life”, “willingness to talk me through things over and over again until I learn”, “helping me to get unstuck,” and so forth.

I am profoundly humbled. It is not easy to see and experience the good that comes from our work in the world. To deny it is just as dishonest as to overly indulge it.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude. The gift of my time and attention was nothing more than reciprocity, for it was the same gift that had been invested in me. And it is already clear to me each of these marvelous people is already paying it forward.

"All my life's a circle..." sang Harry Chapin. What a beautiful and elegant design.

Seeing True™

The product of investing ourselves in people, things, and the creation itself is love. We come to appreciate that in which we are invested. And that love and appreciation always comes back around because it is a reciprocating universe.

Seeing True™ in Action

Pema Chodron says we should lean into the sharp points. Feedback is inevitably sharp. It is also incredibly valuable.

What are you seeking out today that will make you feel uncomfortable, and through that discomfort cause you to learn and grow?