We’ve all been offended, haven’t we, by well meaning coaches, leaders, and builders. I recall a couple years back when Taylor, our youngest son (21), told me how offended he was in the moment when his longtime soccer coach called him out for not bringing the ball down to his foot and playing it to a teammate before it touched the ground. “Dad, I thought he was calling me out for something in front of my team. I thought I had made a good play and he stopped practice to tell me I could have done it in one step instead of two. I thought he was being ridic.” As Taylor reflected on his learning from his teaching moment, he told me that Coach was right. “I could do it better and once I tried it on my own, I did.”
Tay, like all of us, has a hard time hearing tough truth. All humans gotta build capacity to hear hard truth if they hope to build capacity to do better work. Fact. Hearing doesn’t mean responding. Hearing simply means letting it in. The strong hear lots of noise and are very selective what they let stick. Good. All of us, however, gotta get better at hearing and letting in what is offensive to our ears and I’m not talking about foul language. The elite hear more than most because they seek it out. When was the last time, friend, you made someone hit you?
Leaders, do not shy away from delivering messages the masses don’t want to hear. Model the way by connecting before correcting. Connect before correct. And, embrace the pain and suffering of seeking hard feedback. Welcome hard words your way without going triple d (defend, deny, destroy). Thank those willing to make you better. Good.
For the few who are reading this rant with the aim of mastering your craft, develop the discipline of hearing hard truths regarding your performance. Develop an appetite for getting better so the hard facts don’t make you bitter. Tay took it. His touch went from two to one. What, friend, are you doing with hard truth as it hits you? What are you doing to hear offensive words without shutting down? Are you too easily offended? Are you too offensive?
We all gotta lean against our tendency, don’t we? My biggest gains have come from some of my biggest pains – my truth tellers. God, bless them even though in many a moment my tendency is to curse them. Truth – Tough and tender. Good…