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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

Three Types of Feedback

Thanks to Teju Ravilochan, CEO at Uncharted, for giving me a copy of Thanks for the Feedback. The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (even when it is off base, unfair, poorly delivered, and frankly you’re not in the mood).

Anyone that’s ever let a comment consume the mind will benefit from the tools in this book. [Raises hand: I’ll be the first to say that I yield too much mental energy to negative feedback.]

Here is a gem from the book that not only helps us process feedback but also helps create more effective feedback: Three types of feedback.

“Feedback comes in three forms: appreciation (thanks), coaching (here’s a better way to do it), and evaluation (here’s where you stand).”

Appreciation is fundamentally about relationship and human connection. At a literal level is says, “thanks.” But appreciation also conveys, “I see you,” “I know how hard you’ve been working,” and “You matter to me…”

Appreciation motivates us — it gives us a bounce in our step and then energy to redouble our efforts. When people complain that they don’t get enough feedback at work, they often mean that they wonder whether anyone notices or cares how hard they’re working. They don’t want advice. They want appreciation.”

When you ask your boss for more direction, you’re asking for coaching. Coaching is aimed at trying to help someone learn, grow, or change.

Evaluation tells you where you stand. It’s an assessment, ranking, or rating. Evaluations are always in some respect comparisons, implicitly or explicitly, against others or against a particular set of standards. Evaluations align expectations, clarify consequences, and inform decision making.

Having coached hundreds of development professionals, social impact leaders, and employees, I don’t believe you can ‘scale your coaching style’ without the discerning use of these feedback types.

Also, when I think about the true professional (read: The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals from Farnam Street)… the true professional seeks these all three types of feedback!

4 Hours of Deep Work Each Day

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport, is one of those books that is profoundly simple, yet compoundingly insightful. On the surface, the cover suggests it all: focus more and free yourself from all the distractions of a modern mobile, social world.

Freeing ourselves from distractions is in the category of ‘simple, not easy’. And here is where the book offers real insight: HOW to make this work for you.

Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.

Newport likens Deep Work to the work you achieve when you’re in Flow State. In fact, he seems to suggest that Deep Work and Flow State are one-in-the-same, just described from two different lenses.

By contrast.

Shallow Work is: Non-cognitively demanding and logistical – style tasks, often performed while distracted . These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.

Newport says we have about four hours of ‘Deep Work’ in us each day. He examines literary giants, creative types, and other great thinkers. All of their schedules support the theory; many wrote for a very short / concentrated time.

Further, he overlays Dr. Anders Ericsson’s research (popularized in Outliers and The Talent Code). Ericsson says it it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert in anything. In looking at virtuoso musicians, Ericsson observed that they compiled about four hours of ‘deep practice’ each day (for 50 weeks per year x 10 years).

I’ve found the ‘four hour threshold’ be instructional as I approach each day. I know my brain will probably be able to kick out about four hours of deep work. That could be four hours in the morning. It could be four one-hour blocks throughout the day. However I block my ‘deep work’, I also have a realistic parameter to work with: I know I’m probably not going to get six hours of good deep thinking in a day, so I had better plan accordingly.

Think about your ‘flow state’ – the work you do where time disappears. In sharing this with others I’m noticing most of us start out with about 3-4 hours of ‘Deep Work’ PER WEEK (not per day). See if you can identify your deep work and maximize your time for your greatest value and contribution to the world.

Culture of Health

To ‘Be For Impact’ is to have a very whole-person view… of impact… and of your own role (and vitality) in that impact. ‘Change the world’ is a common refrain in our sector but this begins by taking care of yourself.

Three years ago we asked ourselves, “What would it look like for our company to be completely and totally committed to health?” We launched THE SUMMER OF HEALTH. For 90 days we were ALL-IN in terms of supporting, incentivizing, and funding lifestyles of wellness, nutrition, and fitness.

That was a big success.

More than the impact it had on our team, the Summer of Health was a value (and a story) that catalyzed relationships beyond our team. I began to hear from readers that wanted to talk about HEALTH, first and foremost!

Health. Vitality. PERSONAL Impact. These are values that resonate for us and for others. So I wanted to share a quick update…

After the Summer of Health, we decided to adopt the commitment (and investment) as a permanent part of our culture and business model. We simply call it: CULTURE OF HEALTH.

Here are some selected stories from our team (as shared in our annual survey), almost three years in. The biggest words that come up again and again are PERMISSION and FAMILY.

  • “I’ve found it interesting how my efforts in the gym have spilled over into other aspects of my life. When I cook meals for us at home, I do so with my exercise and health goals in mind. These healthy meal choices affect my family as well as myself, and I think my enthusiasm for my gym routine has helped create a positive feedback loop where we work to support family members’ exercise goals.”

  • “I think one of the main things Culture of Health has given me is PERMISSION. Without having to worry about cost, I can do the kinds of self-care that I was probably hesitant to indulge in. A number of years ago I wrote down some dreams I had, and one of those included getting regular massages – not just once a year, but much more frequently – they are one of the ways I can fully relax and be taken care of. I’ve been getting massages every two months, and it’s such a great way to unplug, and basically do 90 minutes of meditation too (I struggle to do 5 minutes of meditation!). Having the same massage therapist has also meant she knows when things are out of whack with my body, and can give me a more holistic treatment.”

  • The family impact comes up again-and-again. “When I grew up we ate fast food and processed stuff. The Culture of Health has us thinking about nutrition. My kids are growing up with a completely different eating habit. That’s an impact that will last forever.”

  • “After reading It Starts with Food we [husband and I] decided to try the Whole 30. It then inspired my brother-in-law and his family. While the impact has been big on us, it’s been transformation on them. He’s down 60 pounds and going strong. I don’t think you expected to have the ripple impact through the Culture of Health but that’s what I’m seeing.”

When we first introduced the Summer of Health, we saw the loss of weight, energy spikes and the like. Then things started to normalize.

While that might seem bad, I think it’s simply normal and probably more ‘practically sustainable’. I’ve also notice the ‘normalized conversation’ changes. It moves from ‘diet and exercise’ to ‘environment, nutrition, and fitness’… and I hope we can continue to move forward toward ‘vitality’.

In my mind our overall ‘health and vitality’ went like this.

Overall, this continues to be the right move. On average it’s an incremental financial investment of 3% to 4% each year to our bottom line. The financial return is not a straightforward calculus — but it’s there. Moreover, the impact return is transformational (and generational).

We all want to impact the world. Hopefully, this post gives you a little PERMISSION to take care of yourself, first!