Feedback, The Breakfast of Champions

The other night I watched two teenage sisters shine. They shined so brightly that their audience beamed with pride at their character and accomplishment. The girls volunteered to make a presentation and be coached in front of roughly fifty adults at a meeting of the Institute for Cultural Communicators (ICC). After diligent preparation and no small amount of creative labor, the girls stood in front of their audience ready to deliver their performance. What happened next reminded me of a paper my wife wrote entitled “Feedback: The Breakfast of Champions.” The girls confidently delivered their presentation. Then they consumed enough “breakfast” for a team of champions. Again and again they performed and consumed, performed and consumed. It was beautiful– and so were they.

With each cycle their presentation improved. The girls listened carefully and graciously, though it was no doubt trying to be jostled around by such direct feedback– don’t do that, try this, now this… In the end, the performance was greatly improved and so was, I believe, the audience. We, the audience, witnessed two young ladies gracefully accept and respond to a public critique of something they personally created and performed. The contrast with the adult workplace was glaring, at least to me.

As I reflect on the contrast and draw on my years of experience, here is what I see.

ICC Workplace
Interdependence Autonomy
Feedback is expected and wanted by both parties Feedback is threatening to both parties
Feedback is essential to the process Feedback is an exception to the process
Critics are viewed as partners Critics are viewed as rivals
Accepting feedback is sign of character Accepting feedback is sign of weakness

I doubt that these girls have always taken feedback so well.  Most people don’t.  But I am pretty sure I know how they got to this point:  Their goal is to improve, and their learning process is collaborative. Twice a month they gather with other students and adults to work on their communication skills.  In those sessions they routinely give and get feedback just like breathing– in and out, give and get—and the results are exceptional.

…I wonder what would happen if adults in the workplace did the same thing

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4 thoughts on “Feedback, The Breakfast of Champions

  1. Cathie Boulden

    Thank you for posting this! I am the chapter sponsor of the two girls you witnessed at the Flood the Five Critique session. Just today they were in my school room at home seeking a critique on a new duo they are perfecting for three community platforms for senior citizens. You are so right that ICC cultivates a desire in the students for collaborative feedback that helps everyone improve. Hopefully this will carry over to their workplaces in the future. Perhaps these students will change their culture!

  2. Michael Boyes Post author

    Cathie,

    It was a pleasure to see the girls “perform” and respond so positively. Though I don’t know them, I was proud of them. Thank you for being (one of) their guide(s).

    My daughter, who is nine, just finished her first year of ICC. While supported I her participation from the beginning, the Flood the Five Program made me a true fan. Now I am excited to see what these kids, my daughter especially, do with this training. I know that it has and will continue to refine her communication skills and shape her character.

    As a Leadership Development Professional, I understand how much character is needed to be a true and strong leader, and I know that it (character) is shaped over the long term. I find myself wondering how I can do what you are doing with some of my clients!

    Thanks!

  3. Jocelyn

    Mr. Boyes,
    I am one of the girls you spoke about in your blog post. My sister and I want to thank you so much for your kind words! I’ve been involved in ICC for almost three years, and I have learned a myriad of life skills including the one you saw practiced–humility. You were right when you said that my sister and I have not always taken feedback well. At first, constructive feedback, to me, was received as an insult, but ICC has demonstrated to me that constructive critiques are crucial to becoming an influential communicator. I love your wife’s description of feedback, “The Food for Champions” because that’s exactly what it is! Again, thank you so much for your words.They are a good reminder that we are always being watched, so we need to conduct ourselves in a way that is glorious to Christ!

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