It depends.

If you're an athlete, fair enough. to make it to the top you need your muscles to suffer.

But as a learner? Different story. Pain, in the form of feeling bad about our mistakes, just gets in the way.

Babies and sportspeople

Think of babies learning to walk. They fall over constantly, but they don't feel upset or embarassed about it. They just try again.

Top sportspeople might have aching muscles, but they know that mental pain isn't the way to top. They might feel a bit frustrated with a slower laptime in practice but they don't want their coaches' praise. They want to know where they went wrong. Is the negative feedback painful? Well, they keep asking for it.

Here's a personal example

About 15 years ago, I was taking part in a workshop for professional speakers. I had crafted and memorised my presentation thoroughly, using the techniques of oratory I had studied for years. I felt confident and pleased with the result.

There was a pause and one of my speaker friends commented, 'It was good, but a bit like a dissertation'.

It was disappointing, sure, but the most valuable feedback I've ever received and a turning point in my speaking career. Since then, I've ad-libbed in conferences. It's all carefully thought through and organised, but I'm far more interested in engaging audiences than being word perfect. It's like a one-way conversation.

How much difference would feeling crushed by the negative feedback have made to my speaking career? None at all.

How much difference would praise have made? The same. I wouldn't have changed a thing, just gone on making dissertations, possibly word perfect, but in my own little world while the audience wondered what their dog was doing at home.

Welcome the negative

Negative feedback is more valuable than positive, but it doesn't have to be painful.

Let's accept that setbacks are opportunties and just a normal part of learning.

Let's decide that we don't need to show the world that we are successful performers already. We may still feel frustrated and disappointed by setbacks - but we can choose not to feel crushed, humiliated, or tempted to give up.



Interested in a workshop on emotional Intelligence for your team? (It's about thriving at work)

What about a workshop on employee engagement? (For your leaders or for your teams)