You look for feedback when you want to hear someone’s opinion about your work.
You look for correction when you want someone to tell you how your work should be.
You look for validation when you ask someone whether you are or you are not.
In the process of my writing the master’s thesis, my advisor–Logos Consulting Group President and CEO Fred Garcia–and I had interesting conversations about the ideas I was trying to convey. He sometimes agreed, he sometimes did not. He gave me his expert opinion on how something read, when a reasoning didn’t hold, or why an analogy was unnecessary.
That was feedback. It helped me see how people outside my brain would understand what was crystal clear to me.
When I design for clients, I sometimes end up delivering products that I personally don’t like. But hey, it’s their decision, isn’t it? They correct my proposals until the result is what they’re looking for.
That is correction.
Many years ago, I had the opportunity of handing my literary work to one of my favorite living authors, António Lobo Antúnes. I felt anxious because, in my mind, he would be able to say whether I was an author or not.
I was looking for validation.
Accepting Fred’s invaluable feedback entailed hard work on my side–how can I make this better, stronger, more meaningful?
Accepting design clients’ corrections is easy–I add the line they ask for, I change the font to the one they prefer, I fade the color they find too strong.
Accepting feedback as validation will deter you from pursuing your goals–you may even not set your goals until someone gives you a go.
If you take feedback as correction, you’re showing you’re a doer, an executioner. But doers don’t lead.
If you take feedback as validation, your work will always be haunted by what you think are their–your boss’s, your favorite author’s, your mentor’s–expectations.
Accept correction means that someone’s a teacher and you’re the pupil. It means that you’re letting someone else have authority over your work. Thus, you don’t need to take ownership because, hey, it’s their decision, isn’t it?
But when you work out the feedback you get, you chew it, digest it and metabolize it, delivering your own preferred product.
Then, you’re acting as a leader.