How open are you to receiving feedback? Be honest. Most people claim to be open to feedback, but in my experience rarely truly are. Asking and receiving are two entirely different things. And really, what is the point of asking if you have no real intention of receiving?
Nowhere have I found this more prevalent than in the art world. I can’t begin to count how many times I have been asked my opinion about a piece of artwork only to be fought tooth and nail on every point of critique. These artists were not seeking genuine feedback. They didn’t really want a truthful, unbiased opinion. They wanted validation or to have their ego stroked.
And did their work improve? Of course not.
Real advice, real feedback, real opinion is only useful if we are sincerely ready and open to receive—no matter what the outcome—and to implement.
I remember one time an artist approached me for a critique of their portfolio. Having gained much wisdom through experience, I asked, “Do you want my opinion as a friend, or my honest critique as a creative professional?”
After a long pause, they replied, “Opinion as a friend.”
We went on to have a pleasant conversation.
I found this exchange refreshing. Here was someone who thought they wanted my input, but was honest enough to admit they were not ready to receive.
And that is perfectly okay. It’s okay to admit we just want some feel-good comments. We all need that sometimes. It is natural and human. But let’s not confuse this with real feedback.
To be clear, not all feedback is negative. Sometimes it is quite the opposite. And in those instances, we need to shed our false humility and receive all that positive feedback with complete openness. Many people, particularly creative types in general, are not comfortable in the public spotlight. For every fame-driven diva, there are a thousand artistic wall flowers—content to work on perfecting their craft in relative obscurity.
I’ve also found this to be true in sports, music, and even the business world. It is an odd paradox. We often pursue high levels of success and all its accompanying benefits—wealth, security, prestige—but then reject it the moment it arrives, turning away the very thing we thought we wanted.
We want to be successful—as long as we’re left alone. We want to be wealthy—as long as nobody hounds us for money. We want to be wildly creative—as long as nobody says anything bad about our work.
Do any of these sound familiar?
Again, asking and receiving are two entirely different things. Advice and feedback can be powerful tools for growth, but only when we are truly ready and open to receive. If you’re not quite ready, be honest and admit it. But when you are, get ready to profit.
To your good fortune!