Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions

Guest post by Russell Justice (aka Mr. Whiskers)

My mentor and friend Aubrey Daniels first introduced me to this principle years ago. Since then, it continues to prove itself true in my life and work. From feedback to children on thumb sucking, stops on the soccer field, or doing the daily chore list; to feedback on classroom performance to students and blocking efficiency for football players; to progress on house construction, selling $ million medical equipment or response time to customer requests, feedback is indeed the Breakfast of Champions. Those pursuing and achieving excellence thrive on feedback. Not just feedback on results—not at all—feedback on progress, even tiny steps of progress.  In fact, the smaller the increment used to measure progress (and reinforce it), the faster the performance will increase (shaping).

This week a milestone event reminded me again of the value of feedback.  I turned the 6000th mile on my blue Trek bicycle. The milestone made me thankful for the Cateye “computer” that keeps track of my miles, minutes, trips and speed. At times when I am on some other bicycle, like at the beach or when riding with a friend, and that bicycle does not have an odometer,  my enthusiasm for riding and my energy diminish.  There is something powerful about having the dial in front of me, showing me my speed and each hundredth of a mile—and giving me credit for it. I can’t count the times that feedback has pushed me on to finish my goal of 20 miles when I wanted to quit at mile 17 or 18.  There is nothing imaginary about this—the fact is, the emotional and physical energy is not there without the feedback. Feedback is indeed the Breakfast of Champions. Given that feedback is the Breakfast of Champions—do you have something in your life (exercise routine), in your family (staying in budget), in your work (reducing waste), in your Sunday school class (new members), or with your baseball team (reducing errors) that you would like to see improve?  Then, finding a way to measure and provide specific and timely feedback is the starting point.  Without it, your improvement efforts are mere talk.

Posted by Aubrey Daniels, Ph.D.

Aubrey is a thought leader and expert on management, leadership, safety and workplace issues. For the past 40 years, he has been dedicated to helping people and organizations apply the laws of human behavior to optimize performance.