Is Feedback Crap or a Direct Route to Dream Success?

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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Many Hands Help Support the Base of a Human Castle During the Festival of La Merce in BarcelonaFeedback sucks.

Is that what you believe?

Just the word itself can strike fear into the hearts of many an artist and writers the world over. Feedback is to the budding artist is what caster oil is to a sick child.

Most hate it, but if you are smart and want to become renowned at your dream, then feedback should instead feel like a rose — fragrantly sweet with an occasional thorn.

And absolutely necessary for becoming incredible.

Last week, I wrote a post for 8 Women Dream titled, Does 8 Women Dream Suck? to illicit feedback from visitors about 8 Women Dream.  I wanted to find out if there was anything about this online project that was bugging the ever-living crap out of people. I purposely asked for feedback — even negative feedback — if they felt so inclined to share.

Why would I do such a crazy thing?

Because if your art (or in our case, this blog) is something special then people will have strong reactions to what you have laid out out before them. If you are producing something that you want the public to take an interest in, then you have to know what they like, and don’t like.

To become great, you must work to become better — and the only way to get better is with feedback.

But feedback is useful on so many other levels besides making you set a higher standard for yourself. Feedback will tell you if your grammar is lazy (oh, I have so been there), if you are phoning it in with your writing (composing your story at deadline, half-drunk from going to dinner with a friend), or where your dream has hit a dead end.

Feedback will tell you when you are taking too many shortcuts and trying to cheat your way to the top.

Great athletes love feedback, in fact, they live for it. They look for it from coaches, from teammates, and from great athletes they admire. Feedback tells them if their golf swing is off, if their hips are rotating at an angle when they run, or if they need to condition and become stronger. Successful athletes won’t look at feedback as, “Oh my God I’m awful. I think I will just quit now.”

They view feedback for what it is: the opportunity to become greater than their competition.

Top fashion photographer, Mario Testino, once said, “I have learned through the years that you have to be so humble in order to grow… because the moment you think, “Oh shut-up” (that you don’t need feedback) you stop learning.”

Caroline, an 8WD reader, was kind enough to give me feedback on my “Does 8 Women Dream suck?” post. It was just the kind of feedback I wanted.  She bravely set her fingers tapping on her keyboard to tell me that she wasn’t real happy with what I had done to the 8WD comment section. Her feedback came as a complete shock to me, not because of the fact that I got feedback, but because I never even thought that there could be a problem with the 8 Women Dream comment section.

Working your dream without feedback is like feeling a breeze on your backside and suddenly realizing that your skirt is tucked into your underwear and your butt has hanging out for all to see.  The world saw it, but you were too close to the situation to feel it, let alone, see it.

Soliciting feedback guarantees that someone will pull your skirt down sooner.

You’ve got to be thankful for the people who are willing to step forward to point out that your cotton underwear is saying hello to the world behind your back before you’ve gone too far looking that way.

Caroline’s thoughts about the 8 Women Dream comment section gave me a window into her experience as a visitor to the 8 Women Dream website.  Her experience was vastly different from mine and I instantly wanted to fix that.

I understand that there is a very real possibility that she isn’t the only visitor experiencing the same issue with 8WD.  When I confided to Heather of 8 Women Dream what Caroline wrote, she remarked, “Well you know, I had a hard time understanding the Disqus comment system at first too…and I am a tech-chick.”

Boom, there is the advantage of feedback.

No one thought to bring up a possible comment issue until Caroline was brave enough to offer feedback.  Heather gave me confirmation that I needed to offer up help to readers who felt like Caroline. Imagine if I had thought to disregard Caroline’s comments because I didn’t like the feedback?

In welcoming her feedback I’ve made Caroline a part of the 8 Women Dream community. She will forever be know as a person who helped make 8 Women Dream a better website, and me, a better blogger and director.

I love that she wants us to make it easier for her to use 8WD and that’s how you should feel about feedback.

You should love it.

To be a top blogger, you have to be open to what your readers think about what you are offering up to them. You don’t need to listen to any abusive rants, but you should be open to hearing what they have to say, especially when they tell you that you are way off base.

And if no one is commenting on your work then you should consider that either you are not engaging with people enough to motivate them to comment, or your content is not worth enough to your readers for them to take the time to comment.

Neither should be a reason to quit, but taken instead as a call to do more and become greater than the limits you’ve allowed to settle around your dream. Feedback is calling you to greatness — to take your dream to the next level.

And if you are not willing to get better at your art–your blog–your dream, then why are you wasting time doing it?

Pick something else to do with your life.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will be processing feedback


PS.  Thanks to Caroline, we now have a How to Comment on 8 Women Dream page.

  • And there you go :) I love that it took your asking the community for me to note the same question about the comments.Guess we dreamers need to chat more often! Congrats on the new page!