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I heard the statement “feedback is the breakfast of champions” while listening to a recent podcast. There is a lot of truth to that statement. After hearing it I started to break it down to see if I could come up with a new statement for Lead on Purpose readers:
- Feedback: The word feedback is a technical term meaning “a mechanism, process or signal that is looped back to control a system within itself.” The term has evolved in business language to mean receiving information from others — either verbally or through written means — about topics important to you. The key to benefitting from feedback is listening. If you want to improve, seek out feedback from others, listen to what they say and take action.
- Breakfast: Some say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day; I agree. It’s the fuel that gets you going in the morning. It’s the energy that drives you throughout the day. You receive power from eating.
- Champions: Usually associated with sports, the word champions identifies the ultimate winners. These are the people who have worked smart and hard to achieve a goal. They work together. They achieve what others do not. They may not be the most naturally talented at what they do, but they work harder and have more of a team mindset than those with whom they compete. They are the leaders.
So, after going through this exercise I’ve come up with the following Lead on Purpose adaptation to “feedback is the breakfast of champions”: Listening is the power of leaders. But it’s not only listening, it’s acting on what you hear. It’s making an effort to know what others are thinking. It’s working hard to improve based on others’ experiences. It’s knowing when to say “yes” and when to say “no.” Ultimately, it’s knowing that you or I do not have all the answers, but together we can know what is best.
The Product Management Perspective: Recently I’ve received some great feedback from co-workers and customers. Through this process I’ve realized how important it is to listen and make decisions based on what you hear. I’ve always known this but at times have been blinded by own knowledge and experience. It’s a positive thing to receive feedback that — though painful at the time — gives you a new perspective on where your products are headed. To succeed as a product manager you need to hear what other have to say, apply the positive aspects, swallow your pride and move forward.