I'd like to share a story with you that highlights the incredible impact of feedback in our lives. It all began with a simple yet profound lesson learned at an unexpected place - a coffee shop I visited during my time in Wellington.

One brisk autumn morning, I decided to deviate from my usual routine and pay a visit to a charming café I'd never frequented before. As I savoured my Mocha and observed the bustling scene around me, something peculiar caught my attention. The barista, a young woman named ( we will call her Lily), was diligently taking orders and preparing coffee with a gentle smile on her face. However, there was something about her that set her apart from the others: she had a small notebook in her pocket, and she seemed to be jotting down notes after each customer interaction.

Intrigued, I approached her during a quiet moment and asked about her notebook. With an enthusiastic smile, she explained that she was passionate about her work and constantly sought ways to improve. She used the notebook to record customer feedback, both positive and negative. Every evening, she reviewed her notes and worked on enhancing her skills based on the feedback she had received.

I was captivated by Lily's commitment to self-improvement, and her story reminded me of the profound value of feedback in our personal and professional lives. Lily's example demonstrated that feedback isn't just about receiving criticism; it's about learning, growing, and becoming better versions of ourselves.

As I continued my visits to the café, I couldn't help but admire Lily's dedication to her craft. She genuinely cared about each customer's experience and was always open to their suggestions and concerns. She transformed from a good barista to an exceptional one, all thanks to the feedback she collected and acted upon.

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Making the most of feedback

One day, I decided to ask Lily if she had any advice on how to solicit and utilise feedback effectively. She graciously shared her insights, and they were invaluable. Here's what I learned from her:

1. Be Open to Feedback

Lily emphasised that to grow, one must be open to both positive and negative feedback. Negative feedback may be tough to hear, but it often offers the most room for improvement.

2. Act on Feedback

Simply collecting feedback isn't enough; you must take action on it. Lily recommended making a plan to address the feedback you receive and continuously strive to better yourself.

3. Consistency Is Key

Like Lily, consistency in seeking feedback and acting on it can lead to significant growth. It's not about making massive changes overnight; it's about making small, incremental improvements consistently.

4. Create a Safe Space

Lily highlighted the importance of creating a safe environment for feedback. When customers felt comfortable providing their thoughts, she was able to gather more valuable insights.

Applying Lily's feedback lessons

Armed with these insights, I decided to implement Lily's advice in my own life. I started actively seeking feedback from my colleagues, friends, and family. The responses varied from constructive criticism to words of encouragement, but each piece of feedback provided a unique perspective on my strengths and areas for growth.

One piece of feedback I received from a colleague was about my communication skills - specifically my assertiveness. I had always considered myself a decent communicator, but this feedback made me realise there was room for improvement. So, I started attending communication workshops, reading books on effective communication, and even seeking mentorship from experienced communicators. Over time, my communication skills improved significantly, and I could see the positive impact it had on my professional and personal relationships.

Another valuable piece of feedback came from a close friend who pointed out that I often seemed rushed and impatient - a family trait! This feedback made me realise how important it is to be present and give people my full attention. I made a conscious effort to slow down, listen more attentively, and practice patience. The results were remarkable; my relationships with friends and family deepened, and I felt a sense of connection I hadn't experienced before. As someone who practises Zen Buddhism, this was a great reminder for me.

The transformation I experienced was profound, and I couldn't help but reflect on how Lily's approach to feedback had inspired me to become a better version of myself. Her story of personal and professional growth through feedback had a ripple effect on those around her, demonstrating the remarkable power feedback possesses.

Lily's example and the lessons I learned from her have solidified my belief in the importance of receiving feedback. It's a catalyst for personal and professional growth, a means to become the best version of ourselves. We should actively seek feedback, embrace it with an open heart, and, most importantly, act on it to effect positive change in our lives.

I encourage you to reflect on your own journey and consider how feedback has influenced your path. Perhaps there are opportunities for growth and transformation waiting just around the corner, all thanks to the power of feedback.

I hope this story inspires you to continue seeking and utilising feedback to become the best version of yourself.

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