One of my favourite movies from the late 1980’s is ‘Field of Dreams’. It’s based around an Iowa farmer, Ray (played by Kevin Costner). One night while walking through his cornfield he hears a voice saying – “If you build it, he will come.”
He works out that he is being asked to build a baseball field. Needless to say his neighbours think he’s gone nuts. Despite the taunts, he knocks down his cornfield and builds the baseball field. After that, the ghosts of past great players emerge from the crops to play ball.
Whilst it’s a bit corny in parts, it’s a great reminder that some of the best things we do in life go against conventional wisdom or the advice of others.
When I left corporate over four years ago to do what I am doing now, I had people who thought it an odd career move. Julia Childs worked in advertising before becoming one of the earliest celebrity chiefs. While Vera Wang was a figure skater before becoming a fashion editor and ultimately, a fashion designer.
Additionally, throughout history there are many people who went on to have successful careers, despite initially being told by others they had no talent. The list includes Jackson Pollock, Marcel Proust, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Lucille Ball and Charles Darwin.
There are also countless examples of successful business people who struggled at school and then went on to be spectacularly successful in business, or people whose original ideas or concepts were initially rejected.
The old adage – ‘feedback is a gift’ – isn’t always true. It depends on what you do with the feedback, and whether it holds you back or spurs you on. It also depends on the usefulness of the feedback.
I’m not suggesting you should completely discard and ignore the advice or feedback or others. It is wise, however, to consider the feedback from two angles:
- What’s the intent of the person providing the advice/feedback? Is it helpful or unhelpful? Good or not so good?
- What’s the skill or experience of the person offering the advice/feedback? Is it high or low in the area in which they are providing their opinion?
The intersect of the answer to those two questions, can help you determine how you approach the advice.
By being both open to feedback and judicious about what to do with it, you are able to make a clear, conscious choice.
It takes courage to step beyond the opinions of others and to make decisions that other people may try to persuade you not to.
When you take this approach you put yourself firmly in the driver’s seat. You take accountability for your decisions, and which way to go and when to turn.
As the author J.K. Rowling said: “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”.
Getting you ready for tomorrow, today.
Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian. Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’ and ‘Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career’.
For more information: www.michellegibbings.com or contact [email protected]