What would the people who don’t hold you in highest regard say about you? And are you working on those issues to the extent that they are valid?

I’m going to start posting some writing prompts here that I got from Tools of Titans.

You’re welcome to follow along with me and answer them as writing exercises in your own life.


Today’s exercise is somewhat uncomfortable:

What would the people who don’t hold you in highest regard say about you? And are you working on those issues to the extent that they are valid?

Honestly, I’ve been told that I’m impatient, emotional, I have too many new ideas all the time, and don’t stick to things long-term.

I’ll look at each one of these in turn: how it makes sense from one perspective, how I see it, and what I’m working on improving in myself.

Impatient -> Productive

When I have a task to do, it fills up my entire attention and I can’t let go of it until it’s finished. This is the secret to my insane levels of productivity. The problem comes when I expect that other people will operate in this way as well. I’m learning that sometimes prioritizing life balance or other important things is more beneficial than getting stuff done immediately.  Both for myself and for people around me. Be productive, but don’t kill myself getting it done crazily fast. Some things take time.

Emotional -> Communicative and Self-aware

I like to live with a clear heart. This means that whenever a reaction or emotion arises, I take the time to notice it mindfully, get curious, explore and listen to what it needs to tell me, and let it pass through me once I’ve learned the lesson. The feedback from others with this process is that it can impact them when I’m going through it. Sometimes it’s hard for people to be around my questioning, and it can feel uncertain or triggering for them. So I’ve started to really make it clear that it’s not about them, they haven’t done anything wrong, it’s just a process I need to go through so I can learn quickly and get back to a clear heart. I’d rather deal with things as they arise while they’re still small rather than bottle them up for them to explode later in major life changes or disease. And each of these experiences helps me to design my life with better boundaries that minimize future emotional triggers.

Too many new ideas -> Innovative

This one just comes from fear of change. In the startup world I live in, you have to be always innovating and coming up with new ideas. That doesn’t mean not following through on existing projects and experiments, but it does mean having an open mind and not being too attached to your current worldview.

Don’t stick to things long-term -> Rapid growth

Again, this criticism seems to come from people that are less inclined towards growth and change. I definitely live by my values long-term, and those have been fixed for a long time. But where I live, what I work on, what I eat, who I hang out with, all these things are changeable to different degrees depending on my current understanding of myself and the world. I tend to like having people around me who support and are excited by growth rather than threatened and frightened by it.  And I like having stable, long-term relationships with my partner and family members. Maybe the rest is just a matter of relative speed, like the impatience above.

The takeaway lesson for me from this writing exercise? I will work on slowing down and impacting others less, but I still want to innovate and stay clear.

Now it’s your turn.

What feedback have others given you, how do you see it, and what are you working on improving?

4 Replies to “What would the people who don’t hold you in highest regard say about you? And are you working on those issues to the extent that they are valid?”

  1. I love that you’re thinking through this feedback. Sometimes, it seems challenging to simply *obtain* feedback, especially from those who might be critical. How do you get it?

    1. Great question, Erica! The feedback I’ve gotten has tended to be at the end of a personal or job relationship – that seems to be when people feel most comfortable giving criticism, since they don’t feel obligated to spend more time with you.

      But I’m trying to get feedback earlier and more often. So in current relationships, I make a point of being open to and grateful for feedback, and when it comes, I get curious and try to understand the other person’s perspective rather than take it as a personal attack.

      One of my favorite tai chi instructors used to say, “Feedback is the greatest gift.”

  2. Great post! Thanks for writing about this. It got me thinking… along the same lines as what Erica was asking (and your reply), another tool I find useful for seeing past my ego and unearthing my own flaws when external feedback is lacking is to meditate on the things that bother me the most about other people. In my case oftentimes they are reflections of or associated with the things that bother me the most about myself. This isn’t always the case so I don’t think it should be used as the only method, but perhaps it’s something that might be useful (for some people) as another kind of tool for getting past our own defenses and figuring out the domain of our flaws / opportunities for growth.

    1. Excellent insight, Alexander! I do that too – stop to notice when I’m getting annoyed with someone and ask myself if that’s something I do too. Like if I don’t get a reply to an attempt at reaching out, that bothers me, but then I sometimes don’t reply either.

      Life seems to have a sense of humor, giving us experiences on both sides of an issue so that we can learn what it’s like and have greater compassion for ourselves and others. Thanks for your comment!

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