The Melchett Method

I'm not sure if it's an unreasonable man or an enduring optimist who maintains his original heading in the teeth of a gale. Actually, while I'm on the topic of admitting to ignorance, I'm not entirely sure that there is any difference between the two.

We need to be responsive to feedback, we need to be open to it, to adjust it or disregard it as appropriate. It's the "as appropriate" qualifier which should be making you think. Please think!

Rugby players, fighters, police and military, in response to performance or potential situations think (rightly IMO) "I need to be stronger". Thanks to the work of the Gubernator, Joe Weider and the nutroceutical industry, big muscles are perceived as being the hallmark of strength. Bodybuilders have big muscles, therefore I need to train like them... Cut to game time and some hulk running out of gas early doors. What does this tell us?

"As private parts to the gods are we! They play with us for their sport"
Lord Melchett, "Chains", Blackadder II

No, not exactly. It's not that we're not trying. And it's not that we're the butt of some gag the universe is making at our expense. It's just that we're going about it the wrong way.

Taking up the sailing metaphor again (and recognising, if you'll pardon the pun, that I'll soon be out of my depth). We have options, but they depend on our method of propulsion.

Sail alone? Chances are that you're limited to either going nowhere or adjusting course to tack - zigzag across your heading to get where you want to go.

Sail and motor? Well, you can take the same two options as the sail version but you also have the ability to add some more impetus to stick doggedly to the same heading.

Getting away from this laboured analogy, let's return to feedback. What are you getting? Results not going your way? Near misses or being battered? Is it observational? Who is telling you? What is their relationship to you and your performance? Do they stand to gain anything by telling you or not telling you?

If you react really strongly to feedback it is probably because somebody has touched a nerve. Either your values and how you want to be perceived are being trodden on OR (possibly and/or) because something you have already been contemplating/facing up to has just been confirmed.

Now then, standard operating procedure at this stage is to react angrily, point fingers at everybody and everything else which may or may not be involved. If a person has given you the news, it is customary in this situation to tear a strip off them, thereby ensuring that they will think twice about telling you anything other than what they think you want to hear in similar circumstances (this has the added bonus of preserving your future right to castigate people for not telling you that there was a problem!).

At this point though, winners (in the philosophical sense), take a look at what they want, what they have been doing and what they have been getting. Somewhere in that smorgasbord of information will be found some workable morsels.

Sure, we don't live and work in a laboratory, so it is hard to nail cause and effect down to one variable or indeed to alter one variable independently. But that should not stand in our way. The imperfect plane we stick to is better than the perfect one which does not survive into it's second week!

And of course,

"If nothing else works, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through"
General Melchett, "Private Plane", Blackadder Goes Forth


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