Be a Goldfish

Be a Goldfish

Forgetting certain things can help you build a more productive future. Here are four things to forget to help you 'be a goldfish' in your feedback process.

Blake Kohler
Blake Kohler
Co-Founder / CEO
Be a Goldfish

In the hit HBO series Ted Lasso, the title character Ted Lasso hands out some delightful wisdom as the head coach of a soccer team to one of his players named Sam.

The exchange goes something like this:

"Do you know what the happiest animal on earth is? It's a goldfish. You know why?" - Ted

"No". - Sam

"It's got a ten-second memory. Be a goldfish, Sam." - Ted

(It's much better watched: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KXqWCLHgHg)

This wisdom tends to need no explanation, but most of us struggle to apply this simple principle of forgetting our past mistakes (and the mistakes of others).

Forgetting certain things can help you build a more productive future. Here are four things to forget to help you 'be a goldfish' in your feedback process.

Forget your fears

When systematically gathering feedback from clients or customers, you expose yourself to all manner of feedback, which can naturally bring fear. 

For most people, feedback is scary.

 Most of us have experienced that walk to the boss's office when we don't know why we're being summoned. "Am I being fired? Did something happen?" These thoughts can race around our heads and distract us from everything else. It can be an exceedingly uncomfortable feeling.

That same feeling can exist when gathering feedback at a larger scale, and in some extreme cases, it can even prevent you from moving forward with establishing your feedback process.

By forgetting our fears, we can open ourselves up to the feedback we need to improve.

Forget your preconceived notions.

When gathering feedback, it can be effortless to make assumptions about the people giving the feedback. "This person just doesn't like me" can be a ready response that quickly can explain away negative feedback that could improve your organization if you act to fix the issue.

By forgetting your preconceived notions about the individuals giving you feedback or the feedback process in general, you can put yourself into a position where you are most capable of responding to feedback reasonably and constructively.

Forget the overly negative feedback.

Any feedback process is going to lead to negative feedback. Many groups fear that all you will get is negative feedback. While helping organizations gather feedback, our experience hasn't found any group that gets only negative feedback; we promise you will get negative feedback.

(In fact, we've found most groups get way more positive feedback than they would have expected)

In almost every case, you'll also get feedback that is beyond negative - feedback designed to be hurtful.

This feedback is always hard to read, and hurtful feedback is almost impossible to act on correctly. Our best advice is to forget it. Move on and don't give the overly negative feedback any more time than it deserves.

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Forget your past forgetting failures.

Coach Lasso's advice can seem so fundamental that it can be frustrating when we fail to forget, and instead, we focus on and obsess over the feedback we've received.

We're never going to be perfect in our quest to forget the bad. Disregarding our past failures in letting go of the bad in our life can help us gain the courage to try again.

As we continue to try to forget our fears, our preconceived notions, and the overly negative feedback we receive, we can build a life (and a feedback process) that is the 'happiest on earth'.

Be a goldfish, Sam.