Why We All Need Feedback

If you’re trying to accomplish anything bold in life, you have to take some risks. And sometimes, the risk is largely being willing to fall on your face and fail terrifically. It can be hard to pick yourself up and try again after an embarrassing failure, but you have to do it. Seriously. You must try again. Trying again is what helped me to create a piece of art:

photo 2

Can you believe I painted this picture? I can’t. Let me explain why.

When I was in elementary school, we did an “easy” painting project in which we used masking tape to help us create sharp, well-defined straight lines with our paint. Everyone else achieved this. I got paint in places you wouldn’t think it was possible to get paint. Needless to say, my five pointed star wasn’t pointed or star-like. I’m not sure what it was. The Blob, perhaps?

In middle school, the art teacher instructed us to create a landscape. I was such a lousy artist, I made a sun with rays coming from it. Like this:

sun

Well, without the smiley face. But just barely without it. The teacher was appalled. She asked, “Does the sun look like that?” Um…Yes? Okay, okay, no. No, it doesn’t. Did you want this to look both good and realistic?

Hence, I don’t think of myself as a visual artist. But even people like me can create something kind of nice with help, which is how I painted that miracle painting at the top of this post. I went to one of those painting places where they give you wine to numb your anxiety, then a teacher who tells you what to do and reminds you that it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be yours.

And that’s how I ended up with a painting I can actually show people.

It’s the same with anything we do in life. No matter how good you are, you need people to give you feedback and help you make your work better. You need honest people who can share with you what you’re doing well and where you could use some improvement.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a little constructive feedback from someone you trust today. You’ll survive. And you just might produce some amazing work — the kind of work you can’t do on your own.

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