The Pat on the Back…
Even the most practical discussion can turn into a conversation about something deeper — that’s the nature of growing up it seems to me — the nature of waking up in fact — that we don’t look for solutions to ‘practical’ problems, but we look to step back, and more deeply feel into an awareness of the nature of conversation, rather than the content of the exchange, what is there to be felt, and seen, who we are that is talking and what is revealed through those new eyes.
This particular conversation was sparked with a question about an absentee boss and ever-lengthening periods of time between feedback, what to make of it, and potentially do about it.
I really miss those highs from a job well done, he said.
It’s nice to get the ego-buzz from a tick in the box, the five star review, the sense that we have ‘pleased’ someone, but is it really anything more than the empty calories and sugar rush of a fizzy drink?
I know, I’ve been there. For many years in fact, it felt that ‘doing well’ was measured by an external marker, the many academic and career lauds, and how wide-reaching the interventions I implemented. Until it became more obvious that impact was something less tangible, less easily measured in economic return.
Whose Praise Matters?
The more interesting turn in this conversation began when we explored what it means to ask for, and receive feedback, and whether there was a point in life where we realised that the desire for a pat on the head and a tick in the box, while appreciated and recognised, ultimately came from the innocence of ego, and not the mature depths of an evolved soul.
It’s simple enough to ask for feedback, you can do that any time, but what really is it that you want? And, who is the ‘you’ who is asking?
Maybe it’s part of growing up to realise that the only person who can give us feedback that matters is ourselves?
We shared a moment’s reflection.
What’s a Job Well-Done?
It seems that the moments that matter most are the ones where we put our own hand on our heart and we know, truly, whether we are doing a good job in the world.
Whether we are acting from self or from service; whether we gave our best, whether we looked compassionately on other people, or we judged them for being less than — or judged ourselves and shrank into a shell of self-preserving, thought-constructed identity.
My client knew this, just as we all know it when we really look.
And is There Potential for a Bigger Shift?
True feedback is nourishing and orienting; it reminds us of who we are and what contribution we want to make in our short lifetimes. It allows us to sit with what is, and work to change what could be better.
It raises the question of “why not?”, rather than why don’t they…?” or “who am I to…?”
It’s an expression of something bigger than two adults shadow boxing in an organisation or a relationship and, beyond simply growing up, it’s an expression of waking up to what something bigger than ourselves might look like, and what it means when we choose to listen to a deep knowing.
Originally published at https://cathypresland.com on September 25, 2020.