As a coach, I’m good at helping people produce their best work. But that doesn’t always translate to me producing my own best work.
Last week my marketing and writing assistant informed me that I’m entirely too hard on myself. That my writing is good, she enjoys reading it, and many other people do as well. Yet I’ve had this feeling there has to be a better way to make my writing better.
After all, I’m a coach, I give people feedback and perspective for a living, so how could I use that skill to improve my writing?
I found the answer in an online course
For the past two weeks, I’ve been taking Seth Godin’s ALT-MBA which is a crazy business learning sprint where you ship 12 projects in 4 weeks and give feedback to your peers along the way.
After shipping my first two projects I noticed something.
Every time I gave feedback on someone else’s project I improved my own.
I started to realize that something interesting was happening when I gave feedback to other people. A different part of my brain was turning on.
When I published my own projects I thought, this is pretty good!
I couldn’t really see what was missing. As much as I tried to look at my work through other people’s eyes I couldn’t do it.
THESE ARE MY WORD BABIES AND I LOVE MY BABIES
But all I had to do was take a stroll around the nursery and see what other people had made and I found all sorts of stuff that could be different.
I saw what I liked
- Clever titles
- Explanations of the process of creation
- Fun stories about team members
I saw what I didn’t like
- Vague descriptions
- Missing information
- Hints at gold but no gold to be found
After giving 1-3 people feedback I immediately had 5-10 ideas about how I could make my own project better.
And so I would go back and edit my project, make it better, and smile.
Don’t get me wrong, my projects aren’t perfect, but I’ve been blown away by how simple this trick is.
Ever since I’ve found it, I’ve used it to improve my writing, work on my website, even my coaching ability.
Here’s how you can do it:
Step 1) Find something you want to improve – your writing, website, pictures, whatever
Step 2) Create a rough draft, a mock-up, a few sample shots
Step 3) Find other examples of that thing you want to improve
Step 4) Give it feedback using the following format:
Brilliance – here’s what I loved about this, here’s what worked, here’s what I enjoyed.
Opportunity – Here’s what would make it better, here’s what I wanted to know more about, here’s what was missing
Step 5) Go back and look at your work and integrate the feedback you gave to other people into your work.
It’s that simple.
Creativity never happens in a vacuum, it’s always a conversation, if you’re willing to invite a different part of yourself to the table, you may be amazed at what you discover.