Feedback represents observations, which allow the assessor to determine the degree to which an individual is familiar with, know about, able to complete a given learning task or solve certain problems efficiently. Feedback is a combined assessment and formative procedure, which identifies the section or part of the task that the learner does not know or is unable to perform satisfactorily as compared to a specific cut grade, benchmark or norm; using a “processed” normal distribution curve to do so. Thus, feedback either suggests, propose or indicate future steps or actions needed to enhance guidance, improve assistance, refine facilitation, “tweak” instruction, extend training and enrich learning activities to enhance and extend a learner's exposure to relevant experiences.
The ultimate goal of feedback - especially PVC-feedback - is to enhance an individual's current levels of productive performance, encourage personal development & growth and to guide individual's to realize (i.e manifest) as much of their personal potential as possible through readjustments of their action models.
The purpose of accountable and responsible feedback and the SMART correction cycle can briefly be described as follows…
Thomas Edison once mentioned to reporters that he had tried over 10,000 materials as filaments for his new invention, the electric light bulb. One reporter asked how the young inventor maintained his persistence in the face of so much failure. “Failure?” he responded. “I didn’t fail. What I did was successfully eliminate 10,000 elements that were unacceptable for my needs.” What most people would call failure, Edison saw as the process of invention.
The ability to accept so-called failure simply as information and then make corrections without self-invalidation is extremely rare. However, it is a critical key to success. Accepting defeat or criticism is never easy, but it is those people who take feedback (the positive, negative and daring) and make corrections accordingly, who create lasting success.
Everyone fails. Everyone makes mistakes and has painful experiences. Most people just complain about them, justify them or blame someone or something else. The self-actualized individual (i.e. the self-determined individual) learns from them, adjusts, and goes on. No self-condemnation. No pity parties. No blame. Just awareness of… and corrections. It’s not what happens to us, but rather what we do with what happens to us, that makes a real lasting difference.
How do we make corrections without self-invalidation?
Here’s an example:
When we were to fly to a distant city, our flight would be of course more than 90% of the time. Constant feedback and correction would be required to reach our intended destination. As we drift off course, the guidance system reports to the autopilot, and the autopilot makes the necessary adjustments. As our altitude drops or increases slightly, the same thing occurs. This feedback and correction cycle continues over and over again, hundreds of thousands of times throughout our flight.
Can you imagine such an exchange of information between two people? After about the hundredth time, the pilot would probably lose it with the navigator. “Stop it! Just shut up and leave me alone. I’m doing my job!”
But the autopilot never gets angry at the guidance system for its constant correction and the guidance system never accuse the autopilot of being wrong for being off course. It is the ultimate in correction without invalidation. We can all learn from this analogy. Being off course doesn’t mean we are wrong or bad. It’s simply just information that we can use to make a correction.
Many of us use computers. When we don’t get the results we want, we often blame the computer. But usually, the problem is not in the hardware; it’s in the programs or in the instructions we give it. The computer can be flawless, but if the instructions are faulty, the outcome will be undesirable. Although we may get frustrated with computers, and with ourselves for errors made… it’s immensely counter-productive, a waste of energy and time to think that the problem can be solved by blaming the system and/or ourselves.
Like computers, we humans also run programs (belief systems, and various strategies) which could result in failure. We frequently make ourselves wrong for being less than perfect. We berate ourselves for our mistakes or don’t admit our mistakes, because that would mean we’re bad. We spend huge quantities of emotional energy in justifying or feeling guilty, rather than looking for different approaches that will bring about success. To overcome adversity, we must redirect this energy in better, more constructive and productive ways.
Self-invalidation is a crippling disease. It keeps us from accomplishing what we attempt to accomplish when we are afraid of failing… of being wrong. More is lost from not doing something, than from trying and failing. The “price” of doing nothing is high. The “money” you don’t make is much more than the “money” you may lose when you “fail”…
As Robert Schuller asks… “What great thing would you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail?” It’s worth serious contemplation because… in fact, there is no failure… just lessons to be learned.
Like Edison, we need to view our errors as the ”not so comfortable“ part of the journey to success (i.e. digested feedback). When we learn to embrace them and use them to our advantage, they can become our tools for success, instead of being an enemy to be avoided.