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Turning Criticism into Growth - Embracing All Feedback

Awareness| Attitude| Growth Mindset
March 03, 20233 min read

I pride myself on asking for and being open to feedback. It’s all fun and games until someone receives not-so-positive feedback. When the feedback feels like it gets to the heart of who you are as a human being, your purpose on this planet. When something you worked so hard on fails to reach the recipient, the feedback can feel attacking, especially when the primary objective was to contribute. 

While that sounds overblown, what I’ve realized for myself and seen with many we work with, it could be feedback on something small or big – how we respond has a lot to do with how strong we have worked our muscles: our mindset muscle (growth or fixed), our mindfulness muscle (how much we are able to stay present), and our resilience muscle (capacity to bounce back from adversity and maintain a positive outlook despite experiencing stress or significant challenges).

Feelings are not rational, and when we use our muscles, we can differentiate between the feeling and the growth opportunity.

This past week, I received some feedback that shook me to my core and made me realize that all the mental muscle work that I do and teach is 100% worth every moment spent practicing growth mindset, mindfulness, and resilience. I’ve had many clients say they've felt so defeated by feedback, and yet I don’t think I've ever felt that way until last week.

It really made me pause for a moment and say, “Wait, am I doing the right thing? Is this really my purpose in life?” And then my muscles went into action. My growth mindset said, “How can I learn from this? What wisdom can be gained?” My mindfulness kept me present and not allowing the ANTS (Automatic Negative Thoughts) with the “what if”, why, and replaying the conversation instead of saying, “now what…” My resilience took the hit and then said, “I know my worth, I know who I am, I know my purpose, and I know what’s most important in my life and I am so grateful.” 

Now all this said, for a moment I had to ‘sit in the suck"—and boy did I! Yes, and... then I didn’t!

NOTE TO SELF: Not everyone is for everyone! And that is OK!

Do you get defensive, start blaming, make excuses, and/or become a victim when receiving feedback? If so, this is for you! (And by the way, I was all of them for just a few minutes before my mind muscles took over)!

Mindset, mindfulness, and resilience can be life-changing when receiving negative feedback. Here are some ways they can be useful:

  1. Growth mindset helps us realize that perfection is actually a fixed mindset. And that the feedback is an opportunity to grow.

  2. Mindfulness can also help us approach feedback with curiosity and openness, rather than defensiveness or resistance. By staying present and non-judgmental, we can better understand the feedback and identify areas for improvement.

  3. Resilience can help us maintain a positive mindset and avoid getting bogged down by negative feedback. By focusing on our strengths and staying optimistic, we can use feedback as a way to learn and grow, rather than as a personal attack.

Overall, having a growth mindset, being mindful, and being resilient can help us stay calm, centered, and on task when we get bad news. By approaching feedback with openness and a growth mindset, we can use it to learn and improve rather than as a source of stress or frustration.

Here’s a caveat on the other side when giving feedback…

  • No one is perfect

  • Always assume positive intent

  • Kindness is a muscle when giving feedback

  • Many times you’re experiencing a moment in time – remember your character when giving feedback that it is specific, not focused on the person as a whole. 

We are all humans, being human and doing our best! These muscles of growth mindset, mindfulness, and resilience help us be our best selves. Because when we’re able to be in that space of showing up as our best selves, we're also allowing others to be in that space.

Kim Zoller

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