I am a feedback prism, critique me please

Being critiqued can be hard. Especially if we take on all feedback thrown at us as one more point of improvement on our endless growth to do list. We all have that person in our lives who we want to please. Whether it is ourselves, our mothers, our fathers, our lovers. We push our boundaries to get better. We exit our comfort zones to grow. We are sometimes perfectionists, or passionate, or type A, or we just f***ing care. We really truly deeply care. So we want to get better. We want to know we’re progressing. We want to be high performers. It can be so difficult to see the feedback forest for all the constructive criticism trees. What can we do?

A few years ago I realised the perfectionist in me was taking on all the feedback too closely. Every critique I ever received was ALL the things in myself I needed to change, to fix, to improve. Everything needed fixing! I was overwhelmed. I wasn’t always able to cope. I couldn’t rationalise what I had heard into my own path forward. At times I was paralysed. That’s when I started re-framing feedback that came my way. I began imagining myself as a feedback prism and using all my self-care abilities and human centred way of viewing the world to look at feedback in a new way.

  1. Imagine that all the feedback you get comes to you as a single stream of white light.
  2. You are a self reflecting prism. Your job is to split the feedback up into its constituent streams of light.
  3. Choose to examine and tackle the feedback in the order that works for you. You can’t and don’t need to fix everything at once.

“I am a feedback prism. Critique me please.” 

Feedback Prism


RE-MOTIVATION: “If you’re not also in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

The art of re-motivation: championing yourself

Welcome to my re-birth! Rise phoenix! Rise!

Your critics all got burned up in your last demise!

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

“If you’re not also in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

― Brene Brown

I’ve been a rather demotivated design ethnographer lately. It has been a decades long journey for me to be able to say these sorts of things aloud, but I’m doing it here so you can feel with me. I am in the middle of a very long Sisyphean rock roll uphill. (Aren’t we all?) I’ve been here for a while. I will probably be here for a while yet. I have talked it through with members of my team and my leaders. Other folks are doing what they can to support me through this mid winter, seasonally compounded slump. I love the people I work with and the amazing perspective they help me achieve.

It came about when I started to feel like an askhole (someone who asks others for advice / feedback but doesn’t take on-board anything when they don’t like what they hear). I’ve been working on this stuff for what seems like forever. I thought I was done. Yet, all the feedback and interested parties just kept coming. All these people who have an interest but haven’t made it any easier. All these people who have feedback or something to say without saying much at all. All these critics and critical thinkers expounding on what needs to be done better, paralysing me into taking very little baby steps so as not to offend anyone. BAH! Out of my way! BAH!

As a consultant you get the creation to a recognisable format to tell the story meaningfully of what must happen and then you hand the baby over to others so they can raise the child to be a fully functioning ‘thing.’ What I had not counted on, as I changed roles this last year, was that I was now responsible for this child until it was a fully functioning thing. I had thought this was what I wanted when I changed roles. I wanted to see my babies grow up. Who knew raising babies was such hard work?, and it is never done! So just when I thought it made sense and the adoptive parents would swoop in… turns out there are no adoptive owners, you own this thing. Yes you! The ethnographer, you the researcher, you the ‘other’ must become one of us now and raise this child. Yeah yeah, so I’m learning new skills. Yeah growth is uncomfortable. Yeah anything worth doing is hard. Got it, now how to we get ourselves to feeling better when out of FLOW and in a slump?

If I am one thing it is stubborn, and I do not quit when I’ve signed on for something. I can think of so many instances where I signed my name on the dotted line for huge, expansive, massive adventures and then want to dash part of the way through. I never do. I cannot stand to think of leaving something half done. To imagine my name on something that is only partially complete makes my spine crawl. So I will persevere, I will keep coming back and trying new ways. I will be fuelling my fire from a diverse range of support systems. I will be looking at the issues with fresh eyes and from new angles. I will make this baby sing its way into a glorious adulthood.

So what has changed? What has helped me rally out of discontent?

  • Talking -> to those closest to me at home and at work
  • This too shall pass & I’m gonna make it go! Brrrrmmmm BRRRMMM!
  • Done is simply putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly while breathing deeply.
  • Today I watched Brene Brown talk about sweaty creatives and the arena & critics: Here is Brene’s full speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-JXOnFOXQk

So if you’re feeling what I’m feeling drop me a comment or a tweet (@aliciadudek) & let’s help each other with our stories.