Updated: Sep 10, 2020
When Lily came home from dance class she was very upset. Usually, when she comes home from any dance class she can’t stop talking about how wonderful the class was. She talks about choreography they worked through and what shows they are practicing. She talks about how well the other dancers are doing and how she is improving. She usually comes home with a lot of energy.
Of course, there were times after dance that she was mildly upset because she couldn’t get something quite right or she was corrected more than the other girls, so we thought maybe she had been given a couple of tough pieces of feedback and that is what upset her, or maybe she was the only one getting feedback and none of the other dancers were.
Curious, but cautious, I asked, “What happened at dance today?” My question was met by silence so I tentatively asked one more time, “Was everything okay at dance?”
After a few more moments of silence, Lily burst out, “He isn’t correcting me anymore!”
I was surprised by her response, “He won’t correct you?” I asked inquisitively.
“No” she said, “He’s correcting the other dancers but not me.”
“And that’s a bad thing?” Jeff asked, thinking that if she wasn’t receiving correction that meant she was doing everything right.
“Dad, when he doesn’t correct you that means he’s given up on you, your not worth correcting.” She said with indignation.
“So, you want correction?” Jeff asked. I was treading lightly because I didn’t quite know what was happening.
“Over the last couple of weeks Mr. G. (her ballet master) has corrected me less and less and without correction how can I improve?” she said resolutely.
We were fully taken aback, shocked even, she was angry because she wasn’t receiving correction. We did not expect that turn of events.
Have you ever been upset about not receiving feedback or for not being corrected? Usually, feedback and correction is something we avoid. “If I am being corrected,” we think, “then I am doing things wrong. People pay for me to do things right.” No one, usually, wants to hear about something they are doing wrong, or something they could do better.
On the other side of things, people usually avoid giving feedback and correction. Telling someone they can improve in one area or another does not win the popularity contest or the most likeable person award. If feedback is given, it’s the sandwich approach – compliment, correction, compliment. We all see the crap that is in the middle of that sandwich and the bread, no matter how sweet, does not overpower the taste of crap.
When we heard Lily say, “how can I improve without correction.” We realized that she craved correction. She wanted to be told what she was doing wrong. When her ballet master corrected her, she saw that he cared and that he wanted her to get better.
As we listened to her stew about not receiving correction we thought back to the many times in life where we avoided being corrected and also giving correction. We then discussed what might happen if, instead of avoiding correction, you sought after it? What would be different in your life if you actually craved correction? What if you set a streak to “ask for or receive feedback at least one time weekly?”
To become a person who is always learning you will need to receive feedback. To be a leader who cares for and wants her organization to succeed, you will need to receive correction. To become someone who masters an area of art or science you will need to seek for and desire to obtain correction and feedback.
Feedback is a gift and though it isn’t always fun to tear through the wrapping paper and see what is inside, it will provide you with an opportunity to grow. Try setting a streak to ask for or receive feedback at least one time a week and start craving correction.
Jami & Jeff