Saturday, October 29, 2011

Real Authenticity Requires Negative Feedback

Right now you have a negative opinion of someone and they don't even know about it.

That's a pretty safe statement to make, because even if you think you don't, you probably do and just don't realize it. We all make small (and large) judgments about the people we meet and the friends we keep. Someone who knows more than I could probably trace it back to an ancient tribal survival instinct or some such thing.

Regardless of why we do it, I'm hoping we can do it better. I want people to be real with the good and the bad all the time. That's true authenticity and it leads to true, meaningful friendships.

Yesterday, I received an incredibly encouraging complement. You can read the whole thing if you want, but in summary it said some nice things about me being a servant and about my future as a successful entrepreneur. I was so encouraged, I wanted to celebrate that feeling with my friends so I tweeted about it. I wasn't claiming my own awesomeness, but genuinely excited about something significant that I will remember for a long time.

Two quick tangents: I love how Cal Evans did his Friday Follow. He started with the why. Please, emulate that. Don't just tweet a bunch of names. Secondly, I think it's interesting how we celebrate ourselves in some situations (wedding, graduation, birthday, etc) but at other times the same, "Hey look at me!" attitude is kind of sad and smells of insecurity. Hopefully I'll get a pass for my tweet (and this blog post).

So, back to my story... This complement was from a relatively new friendship so I could have written it off. Instead, I received it and was encouraged further by a retweet from Bill Lloyd, someone I deeply respect and have worked with for 6 years in both CA and TN. He added: "Couldn't agree more."

Needless to say, I was on cloud nine all day. I still am today. To be known as a person who serves means I'm not completely getting in the way of God using me to help others. It means some of the sharper edges in my personality are softening. It also means I need to be careful:
Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way. - Luke 6:26
If I only surround myself with people who speak well of me, how will I ever grow? If something about me offends people and I don't have a way to learn from them and change (if appropriate), how many people will I miss the opportunity to serve? (note: I'm talking from a be all things to all men perspective, not a reed blown in the wind perspective)

Here's where you come in.

I want you to click here and take an anonymous two-question survey. If I've ever done anything, said anything, tweeted or blogged anything that bothered you in the slightest, here's your chance to let me know about it with all the safety of anonymity. Go on a rant! It's OK. I asked you to do it.

I need your feedback because I always want to grow and change. I want to serve people who, right now, probably can't stand me and I'm not even sure why. I want to hold on to the encouragements I receive while seeking feedback on how to improve further still. I want connections, acquaintances and friendships that are real and authentic. Since my view is always skewed, I need outside observers.

I need your honest feedback.

If you're bold enough and want to dialogue directly, skip the form and just drop me an email. For more info on the value of trust, authenticity and accurate feedback, I highly recommend The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

So what do you think? Do you want constructive, honest feedback also? Instead of paying who-knows-how-much money on a 360° leadership assessment, you can be up and running with your own form rather quickly. Click documents from your Gmail account (it's 2011, you DO have a Gmail account, right?) and then click Create and select Form. It's really easy from there. Let me know how it goes!

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