Research continues to indicate that in addition to having clear goals, and a healthy dose of challenge, direct and immediate feedback is one of the essential components of optimal performance, or as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi popularized, the state of ‘flow.’ Such a state may be rare for most people, but for those trained to access it, it’s the experience of being so fully immersed in a task, that nothing else matters. As such, you hear about an elite athlete being in ‘the zone’ or a poet talking to her muse as she’s writing that perfect sonnet; regardless, the stakes are always high, and because success and failure are so apparent, the only way to improve performance and adjust behavior is through direct and immediate feedback.
The one thing I find most common among these elite performers is their ability and willingness to learn. They’re skillful learners who not only invite feedback; more so, they relish the slightest opportunity that might give them an edge. As someone who appreciates outside perspective, I recognize the potential shortfalls of receiving feedback, especially when it’s ‘off-base, unfair, and poorly delivered.’ In their book – Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well – Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone, remind us that while we’re all wired to learn, the process of learning about ourselves is a whole different ball game. It turns out that these three triggers are what most often block your ability to learn …..