Category Archives: Reflection

What to do about negative feedback.

Are you hungry enough?

So I'm at home on a Saturday night, and I'm watching America's Next Top Model, one of my guilty pleasures and trashy TV shows that I sometimes tune into (it's that, Project Runway, and Suits that make me curl up with a bowl of popcorn after a long day).

While you can hold your comments about my show preferences, I noticed something about people in competition — and in life — that's critically important.

Three models are competing to book a show. They've got their fierce looks on, they have to show their chops, demonstrate what they've learned, and show their skill in posing and/or walking. Two of them get booked — and one of them doesn't.

Sometimes, after a competition, the TV cuts to a scene of the competitor in a corner, crying. "I don't know what I did wrong," they wail, teary-eyed. "I just don't get it! I thought I was totally going to get this job!"

In two cases, however, I watched as one of the contestants got cut — and she walked up to the judge and asked,

How can I be better?

The judge gave a few remarks about confidence, etc, and the model continued to drill him:

"I'd really love your feedback because I want to get this right. I know it's fiercely competitive, and I'm interested in upping my game."

Both times, the contestants that took the exact moment where they got feedback that told them they weren't as good as their peers, taking that opportunity to learn, grow, and build — the contestants transformed the most week over week.

Granted, this is ANTM. I'm blushing just writing about this.

But I see this happen all the time in real life, too.

My friends who are building programs on the internet, making projects, delivering results, starting companies — the most successful people I know are insanely curious about making things better. They take their project, put it in the world, and ask for feedback.

They know that life is a continuous game of learning, one that started when we were born. As toddlers, we might fall a hundred times while learning to walk, but very few of us sat pouting in a corner after we fell down a couple of times. We wanted to walk.

Not all feedback is the same, however.

Great feedback you can use. Great feedback is specific, clear, and something that you can work on. Negative comments for the sake of being mean should be ignored. (That's called a troll). When someone has something to say that's constructive, file it away. Store it — because it's valuable. We wanted to explore, to move.

The hunger to learn is innate.

When life gets a little rough, we can cry. (I do that sometimes. And it often involves trashy TV and a bowl of popcorn in my bed).

And we can also ask,

How can I be better?

Creating your own weekly review: Robert Cooper on finding ways to be exceptional.

Living up to your potential sounds pretty fancy. It’s something we all want, right? Live up to your potential. Maximize your potential. Be all that you can be.  But how, exactly, do you do it? How does an intangible life objective become manifest into your daily routine? For Robert Cooper, author of The Other 90%: HowContinue Reading

Finding the little bliss(es): this is it.

Where is happiness? Where do you find it? The $7 coffee pot we bought the day we moved in together–because we knew that functioning properly as a team might require adequate dosages of caffeine in our morning routines. Stretching my toes against the curb while waiting for the light to change. High-fiving the blinking walkContinue Reading

A little note on letting go…

Clear your plate. Let go of things that don’t serve you. That don’t inspire you. Give up things that aren’t working. Release. Let out a deep sigh. Pause. Inhale. Exhale. Take a shower. Dunk in a waterfall. Wash it clean, letting water drip down around you, pour over your head. Feel the world rinse you off, like aContinue Reading

Project hangovers, self-criticism, and the necessity of making messes.

I have a confession. Sometimes–more nearly like every time–after finishing a project, I hate it. My writing class? Sucks, obviously. Last week’s essay? Good God, that could have been better. All those open and empty drafts waiting to be finished? Seriously, could have worked harder to get those done.  And on and on… My brainContinue Reading

Darkness and light: why writing is an act of bravery.

“Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our life.” — Brene Brown Writing is an act of bravery. Each year, when I teach our writing workshops, I get to work with a small group of twenty-some writers, thinkers, and creatives. Inevitably, the process gets difficult in weeksContinue Reading

What’s in the trunk? A mysterious tunnel inside the house… and some of the things I’m so grateful for.

What’s in the trunk?   My dad just moved to Colorado and I’m here for the week, visiting for the first time. The cold, snowy mountains outside of Denver are filled with deer, elk, and other creatures that wander up to the backyard and say hello. (There’s also a new dog in the family that’sContinue Reading

Winter workshop: cultivating gratitude, opening to grace. Begins December 1. Join us.

Crack. That moment, when your heart swells in open with thanks. When a stranger sends you a smile and a whisper. The unexpected brush of a hand against yours.  The warmth of the subway air after a walk through frozen city streets. A free coffee from the barista. When a taxi driver waves you forward andContinue Reading

The Bali journey: in photographs.

I’m a little bit at a loss for words. I’m back from Bali, landing back in the USA after a flight pulled me 13 hours backwards in time, depositing me into the winter hemisphere. While I was gone, our city decorated the streets of Brooklyn with holiday lights, and folks have pulled out their hatsContinue Reading

The power of breath: why breathing happens before anything else.

It’s not always easy to breathe. Breathing—the intake of oxygen and the exhalation of carbon dioxide—is life’s essential force. It’s the first step our physical bodies take towards making all other actions possible, including thinking. In swimming, the rhythm of breathing is essential: you only have a few opportunities to catch a breath; it’s aboutContinue Reading