The Truth About Feedback

After I completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training, I signed up for an additional training opportunity because I wanted to keep on learning and improving my teaching.

During my training, we would often have to practice teach in front of our peers. This way our teachers could provide us feedback on our teaching and give us ways to improve.

One day, when it was my turn to teach, I had a meltdown. As I was teaching, my teacher called out to me, “Just be yourself.”

I was puzzled.

Was I not being myself? How was I supposed to be more of myself? Speak louder? Use different words?  I continued to teach and he kept calling out, “Just be yourself.” I got so frustrated that I literally froze and started crying. He had an idea of who I was and I was not being that idea in that moment.

I felt like a deer in headlights -- frozen.

Truth be told, I wasn’t getting much sleep at the time and was putting in lots of hours at the office. I was stressed and barely holding it together. My teacher’s feedback was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

After this exercise, we all sat in a circle and waited for our individual feedback. When it was my turn, my teacher told me that I sounded like Glinda the Good Witch when I taught. He said that I sounded mechanical and very much like a grammar teacher.

I looked at him like, “What’s wrong with that?”

After all, Glinda the Good Witch wore that bomb ass dress with that fabulous wand. She’s also the one who told Dorothy, “You’ve always had the power, my dear. You just had to learn it for yourself.” I mean, that’s pretty much the mantra of my life and what I teach my students and clients every single day.

How else was I supposed to teach? I honestly didn’t understand.

You see, when I teach I like to give the class that I want to take. As as a yoga student, I often have a really hard time understanding the cues that some yoga teachers give. “You want me to what with my what? What does that even mean? What does that mean in my body?” You’re talking to someone who didn’t even know what holding space meant until I took my first yoga teacher training.

So when I teach, I like to keep it simple and straightforward. I like to speak loud and clear (I guess all of those years in the music business have made me kinda hard of hearing). I don’t necessarily fill the space up with words, either. I want my students to have an experience with their bodies and not lose themselves in my constant talking. I try to gauge the vibe and see how it goes.

Do I have room for improvement? Absolutely.

I wasn’t mad at my teacher for the feedback. Overall, I was just at a place in my life where everyone around me wanted me to be something to fit their idea of who I was. I decided to take his feedback as a sign from the universe to have more fun in my classes.

Which brings me to my point about feedback (I promise I have one): the feedback people give you tells you more about them than it does about you.

Case in point: literally the next day I taught my regular Sunday morning class. After class, a student came up to me. He thanked me for the class and said that he really appreciated my style. He said that he could understand my directions and hear me loud and clear. He said that he could feel my kindness and that it was really helpful to him.

Get it, Glinda!!!

Tara Mohr opened my eyes regarding feedback in her book, Playing Big. Tara explains that, "Feedback can never tell you anything about yourself. It can only tell you about the person giving feedback."

That’s why I received two very different opinions about the same teaching style.

One person said it sounded mechanical and the other said it was just what he needed in his practice. Their feedback told me more about them and what they like and what’s important to them than it really did about me and my style.

When you look at feedback, criticism, and praise thru this lens, it becomes easier to not take things so much to heart. It really doesn’t have anything to do with your performance -- it’s how it resonated with your audience.

You get to decide if you want to incorporate the feedback or not.

For instance, if your supervisor gives you input on your job performance, you decide whether or not you want to incorporate that feedback. If the job is important to you and you like working there and your supervisor plays a key part in determining your future there, you may want to play ball. If proofreading your e-mails before you hit send is important to your supervisor, that’s what you do. If your supervisor prefers that the periods line up in your financial models and all negative numbers show in red, that’s what you do.

Or if your loyal customers (who purchase a lot from you) are giving you feedback on your product, saying your sizing runs small or your packaging could use some revamping, you may want to pay attention.

What a relief to know that when someone is talking smack about you it’s a reflection of them and not you.

If your aunt is always criticizing your career moves, it has more to do with her and how she views the world of work than it does with you and your choices. If your best friend is always throwing shade at you for your decisions, it has more to do with her than you.

This is so very freeing because you get to decide what feedback you want to really listen to and incorporate. There’s no need to get down on yourself because someone on social media disagreed with one of your posts. There’s no need to beat yourself up when your boss shits all over the presentation you spent hours pouring over. It is no reflection of you as a person and what you’re capable of. It’s just their expression of what they like, value and want.

Now it’s your turn. Comment below and let me know whose feedback you’ve been taking to heart lately and why.

I’m cheering for you. Like you’re not in Kansas anymore.

From the Front Row,