I’m not a writer. At least that’s what I told myself for much of my life.
When I was a kid, my dad would often make me rewrite school assignments in hopes of improving their quality. I’d object, usually in tears, and curse writing under my breath as I revised my work. After high school I chose to study Engineering, not just because I was good at numbers and problem-solving, but also because I thought I’d be safe from writing. Yet, there I was in college, attempting to defend my 12-page handwritten lab paper that had received a failing grade largely due to grammatical errors and misspellings. (Yes, people, there was a day before personal computers and spell check). I was convinced, and the world seemed to concur, that I was no writer. Nowadays we’d say that I had a solidly “fixed mindset” about writing.
Fast-forward to June 2019, and my second book is heading to bookshelves both real and virtual around the world as you’re reading this note. And yes, I’m owning it: I am a writer after all. Who would have thought! So what changed? How’d I get here, that engineering kid who hated to write?
Like any of us who have received feedback that meets the updated definition Laura and I offer in the book, I have to credit my dad and my favorite engineering professor for telling me what I needed to hear: that I could do better, that I had it in me, but I just wasn’t seeing it. All I needed was more effort, greater care, and a few strategies to up my game. They saw possibilities for growth in me that I didn’t. Thankfully, with a few other meaningful feedback moments over my career, I’ve learned they were right and the label I’d pinned on myself was wrong. And this more enlightened Tamra treasures the time I dedicate to writing. (Although I admit that I still can’t spell, and I’m relieved to know that spelling has no correlation with intelligence.)
I hope you pick up our new book. It’s a fun read and chock-full of easily implemented ideas that will help you recognize the power of healthy feedback. When we get feedback right, we can change a person’s impact, or even the trajectory of someone’s life. We can shift team cultures and create a better, more-connected world of work.