I remember hearing a story about the first
Apollo mission. The first ship blasted off with
the intent to land on the moon.
It didnt accomplish the goal.
In the papers the next day one headline read,
“Apollo 1 misses target by 248,569 miles.”
It took from 1 to 11 to land a man on the moon.
But each and every launch counted
to get the ship closer to the target. Not just the 11th.
This is a powerful example of what corrective feedback is.
Or as I call it “river jumping from rock to rock to reach success.”
It reminds me of another powerful story of a friend.
“He got his ass ripped up one side and down
Thats what I said as I stood at the podium
being inducted into the Bowling Green State University
Hall of Fame last year.
Kevin O’Neill was a walk-on linebacker who in are
first meeting in a bar almost ended in a fist fight.
We soon became friends for some reason. Eventually,
we played side by side and were a force to reckon with.
And his story went like this. Twas a blistering hot
August afternoon. The kind of day where you tend to
see double as vapors rise in the distance.
And thats not because your exhausted
running from station to station. Its just from standing there.
Anyway in one drill, Kevin kept bleeping up;
missed assignment — one right after the other.
Coach Blackney Ripped his ass. Right out in front
of God and everyone on the team. You could feel the thunder
come down form the heavens and the earth shake.
Many of the players forgot
this day… cause coach would rip different guys, different days
for different reasons. It came with the territory.
But Kevin and I never did forget. It became a marker
in both our lives. One I was proud to talk about.
Kevin, being a green walk-on (no scholarship) took this hard.
I recall walking into the locker room after that last session of the day.
So exhausted I did care to speak. But I felt Kevin
in a state of pain and feeling really low.
I stopped Kevin and said, “Kevin. Forget about today. Keep your chin up.
Coach knows you are going to be a great player. Otherwise, he would have
NOT said anything. He would have turned to another direction
shaking his head after your 3rd mess-up.”
“If he would ever do this… its then and ONLY then you need
to be concerned. If he were to do that,
it would be a sure sign he didn’t care about you.”
Kevin thanked me and we continued in the locker room.
Coach gave us the holiday weekend off those next few days
and I returned the following monday. I was getting dressed in my locker
and Kevin walked up.
He handed me three cards.
I opened the first it was from Kevin.
Thanks so much for what you did for me on Friday. You’ll never know how
much it meant to me. Coach was ripping my ass all week and I was fed
up with him. I was ready to QUIT after the last blow up.
You helped me see the light. I am NOT quitting.
Thanks to you I’m sticking it out.”
The other two cards echoed the same message
from his parents and an old high school coach of his.
My eyes started watering. And I got a lump in my throat.
You know what the funny thing is.
I never thought twice about what i did
for Kevin that weekend.
I shared this story with the audience as one of the most proud moments
in my career.
Above the Butkus nominee.
Above being captain two years in a row.
Above being selected Defensive Player of the Year in the mac.
Why? Well, its a great story about perseverance and success.
There will be people in your life that will get in your face and
chew you out. Or conversely lay down the velvet hammer. Use a softer
approach in telling you what you are doing is wrong.
Its what you do with the feedback that counts.
I remember getting my ass chewed against Fresno State
in bowl game my freshman year in front of millions of people.
That day, I decided to depend a little less on my coach
and simply go out and do the damn job myself. I detached from
feeling dependent on them for my success.
Now what I didnt tell you about Kevin is he went from a
lowly walk-on status to being a celebrating scholarship
Kevin went on to start as a junior.
Kevin went on to be elected captain his junior year.
And that little walk-on that joined the Falcons went
on to make the Detroit Lions NFL football team. He made an impact
on their special teams for three years until a career ending
knee injury took him out.
Now let’s say he would have quit that day.
I mean he was adamant about it on that Monday. He was done.
If he did. He never would have experienced what it was like
to play at the pro level. Playing on Sundays with other great athletes
in great stadiums of which most are torn down now.
He never would have had sizeable checks deposited into his bank
accnt. Enough to invest in real estate and other investment vehicles
to kick off his professional business career.
Corrective feedback is one of the most powerful forms
of success drivers you can receive.
So if you are faced with some corrective feedback
the tendency is to fold your tents. Put your
tail between your legs and hunch your shoulders.
SHut down. Defend yourself to others. Disengage and so on.
But do the opposite. Smile when you receive it.
If you lean into it and see it as just what it is – corrective
feedback – then you can use it as a ticket to get to the next
phase on your journey.
And a whole new wonderful world will be there waiting to greet you and shake your hand.
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