Things I say often: I run on feedback

· January 22, 2015

This thing I say often “thing” is quite new and a bit personal. It’s very important for me personally and I hope that you like it.

I’ve had the great, but scary, opportunity to play a couple of times under the late James Watson. For any non-brass-players he’s one of the truly great trumpet players of the world, brought up as a wonder boy in the brass band movement. Later in his career he returned and made the world famous Black Dyke Band into a new being - possibly changing what people thought a brass band could be for ever.

Also - he’s know for being very … direct … even mean sometimes during rehearsals. But I fondly remember a lot of things from the hours I got to spend under his direction.

One of the stories he told was about when the Black Dyke Band did a recording. The recording engineer asked Mr Watson if the intake of air from the musicians could be a little less noisy. His answer was great and totally in character:

These [He picked up an instrument]. You run these things on air!

I’ve gone a period where I felt under-stimulated and not to my full potential. You know the feeling; sometimes that happens for a couple of days or even a week but this has now been going on for ca 4 months.

Basically it caused me to get depressed. I felt no joy and no energy for the job. Nothing that we did (in my mind) had any effect. We just did it. Because we were told to. In a word: Booooooring!

But after a few sessions with a therapist / coach I realized what was wrong: I was getting NO feedback on my work. Apparently that’s how (old-school) Asian cultures work. It’s more important to just follow whatever arbitrary instructions you got to the letter than to feel that you’ve accomplished something important.

No one expects feedback, but rather you just hope that you will not get “spotted” for something bad. No feedback is bad news for you.

But sadly that doesn’t work for me:

Me [I point to me]. You run me on feedback

I need feedback to survive. Good or bad. I want to be better or at least hear that something that I’ve done is good. I wont lie; I prefer positive feedback. Because it makes me feel good and I want to be a good boy, I blame that on Luther! But I like things that I can improve from too.

Probably that’s one of the reasons I tweet, keep most of my code open and blog. It’s a great way to get fast feedback.

My way out of the depression and downward spiral was to seek other ways and situations where I get feedback; volunteering to do courses, taking speakers gig, this series of blog posts etc.

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