Okay, confession time.
I enjoy positive feedback.
I love hearing how my talks or presentations had a positive impact on someone.
And I admit I’m a recovering gold star junkie.
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, and also a self-proclaimed gold star junkie, speaks about how wanting or needing gold stars for our work, our actions, or our behaviours, can be pretty darn dangerous!
Think about it.
So long as you are relying on others to give you a gold star (ie tell you whether they think you’ve done a good enough job to warrant recognition and approval) you are living by their standards and measurements of success, and from their perspective.
Why should it be up to someone else to decide, anyhow?
Not only does it mean we’re giving up our own power, it also means we’re putting our bets on others’ abilities to know better than ourselves how well we did, or how good we are.
Easier said than done, I get it.
Especially if our work is rooted in wanting to help others, impact others, bring happiness to others. And if we are in any way in the creative space, it’s even harder. We rely on reviews from our audience, or our end users, as they are the folks it was ultimately created for.
And yet, there will always be people who resonate with your work, and those who do not. A lot of it is opinion, after all.
Indeed there is truth to the idiom: ‘different strokes for different folks.’
On Tuesday, I had the honour and privilege of delivering the opening keynote at the Company of Women annual conference. This year’s theme was ‘If Not Now, When? Make Your Someday Happen.’And my talk was all about how to get your brave on, and make your someday today.
It was a great crowd, I got a standing ovation, and received some very kind words and positive comments from numerous women throughout the day.
And yet, for some reason I didn’t walk off that stage feeling like I had knocked it out of the park. (I will admit I felt better after receiving some of the feedback mind you…)
A few reasons.
In my wanting to hit a home run, I became too obsessed with wow-ing the audience, I moved away from what it was all about in the first place.
I was making changes to my talk up until the last minute, and forgot some of the lines I intended to use.
I was somewhat embarrassed at the fact I was delivering a keynote on an aircast for the first time (broke my foot… boo!), and there were moments I was in my head and wasn’t fully present.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be so open with you – however I gotta practice what I preach – and there is power in honesty and vulnerability.
So here’s what I’m learning.
Instead of the goal being to knock it outta the park, maybe the goal could be to give it your all, to do your best, and to be present enough to enjoy the experience.
We have to change how we measure success, and how we determine whether we did a good enough job or not.
While I do appreciate positive feedback from others after my presentations, I need to learn to create my own internal barometer for success.
And so, I’ve come up with a few different measurements I am going to use, and invite you to use, also. (now this does somewhat refer to delivering presentations, and yet you could adapt to work for any potential project you’re working on…)
- Did you put in the effort? How hard did you work and did you sufficiently prepare for the thing in advance?
- How present were you during and in the moment?
- How have you grown through the process – did you perform better than the last time you did x? Was there learning?
- Did you make it about your audience or your end user? How connected were you?
- How do youultimately feel about your presentation (or project?) If you ignore any feedback you did or didn’t receive, what rating would you give yourself?!?
Gold stars are nice to receive, there’s no doubt about it.
And, maybe it’s time we re-evaluate what is gold star worthy. Moreover, maybe it’s time we give ourselves our own damn gold stars! Because if you put in the effort, if you gave it your all, you deserve it.
Where in your life are you waiting for a gold star from others? And how could you give one to yourself today? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Have a FAB week!