Feedback Can Unleash Creativity

Feedback usually consists of some form of praise or censure. Focusing solely on someone’s faults can have a negative effect: the recipient can become demoralized and develop an attitude of “Nothing I do is ever good enough”—even if the intent was to provide “constructive criticism.” This can result in a state of despair and decreased effort, since increased effort would seem futile.

Similarly, the recipient of high praise may become so prideful about his/her accomplishments, that further effort might seem unnecessary. He/she may become complacent by thinking “I’ve already arrived.” Note that future effort is thwarted in each case. Thus, TRP® seeks balance between these two types of feedback. We all need at times both correction and encouragement—mistakes should not be overlooked and good work should not go unrecognized.

In TRP®, mistakes and failures are seen as essential and ordinary parts of life; they create opportunities to learn and grow (they are O-FLAG’s—Opportunities for Learning and Growth). In fact, a large part of life is about learning from and correcting our mistakes; also, trying new things and failing, and then trying again. This indeed is how we learn competence in any field of endeavor or any area of life. Failures are necessary along the path to success—and we often learn more from failure than success.

Take for example this anecdote from the life of Thomas Edison: upon hearing from an assistant that 10,000 experiments had failed, Edison is reputed to have remarked, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This is the TRP® attitude.

Excerpted from TRP Participant’s Workbook, page 109. (C) TRP Enterprises, Inc.

What is the TRP Concept?

5 minutes with Carl

Carl was 35-years old, tall and muscular, a salesman on the fast track in a large company. His assertiveness and quick mind earned him a big salary and a reputation as a star performer—and reinforced his inherent impatience.

Carl heard that the company had started teaching classes on something called “TRP.” Always wanting to be on top of things, he decided to find out about it. One day he strode into the training department and learned that a man named Howard taught the TRP classes. Carl located and walked directly into Howard’s office.

Howard, a quiet man of slight build in his 60s, was writing at his desk.

“I’m Carl, from the sales department. I heard you teach a program called TRP. I have about five minutes between meetings and would like you to explain the concept to me.”

Howard looked up from his work and said, “How dare you barge in here with your pompous demands! Who do you think you are, anyway? Get out of my office!”

On hearing this, Carl’s jaw tightened and his neck veins bulged. His fists clenched and his eyes narrowed as he glared at the small man, thinking of what he might do to him.

Now Howard spoke in a quiet, friendly tone, “What you are experiencing at this moment, Carl, is called ‘victim mentality.’ It is part of the TRP concept.”

Carl’s quick mind kicked in. His body loosened; his eyes lit up with recognition and he broke into a broad smile. “You’ve taught me a valuable lesson, and one that I’ve needed to learn. I truly thank you.”

Then Howard leaned forward, as if to share a secret. “And what you are experiencing now, Carl, is called ‘TRP.’ It is the second part of the TRP concept. It means that each of us can learn to respond positively—no matter what the circumstance–and use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.”

***

With TRP we learn a new, powerful way to stay positive and effective in all situations. We learn, as Carl quickly grasped, that valuable lessons are sometimes disguised as surprising or unpleasant events. We learn to recognize and penetrate the disguises and capture the life-changing lessons.

***

Frank’s Test

Our long-time friend and colleague, Frank, describes how he used the TRP concepts.

“Several years ago I was a hospital administrator and occasionally worked with a certain surgeon. He was notorious for getting upset with people, especially those of lesser professional stature, yelling, screaming and being verbally abusive. In these encounters with him I sometimes became defensive or lashed back, or walked away sulking. Around the same time that this was happening I learned about TRP; how to recognize my own ‘victim mentality’ in these situations and how to respond positively instead.

“One morning the surgeon stormed into my office red-faced and began to yell louder than ever, just inches from my face. People in the hallway outside my office were shocked.

“For a moment I reacted in the old way. But I caught myself and shifted out of my victim mode. Then I could listen to his words, and see behind them, to the truth of what he was saying. He was asking for something for his patients, not for himself. And he was right—it was a situation that needed correction and I was the person in charge of that area.

“When he finally paused I said, ‘You are right. I apologize and will work with you so the situation does not happen again.’  He was shocked and walked out of my office. A few minutes later he returned and quietly said, ‘As you can see this really does upset me.’

“In the next few weeks we handled what was needed, by working together.

“Soon afterwards the surgeon was hired away by a prestigious hospital in another city, a real honor for him and a confirmation of his surgical skills.

“A year later he came to my office when visiting here. He asked if I had a moment to speak with him, and said, ‘Frank, I just want you to know how much I appreciate your listening to me and helping me. When I was here I was a real jerk—I know that, and I am not like that any more. I was under lots of pressure that I wasn’t handling well, so it was really helpful to have someone actually listen and try to assist me in resolving the patient problems and surgical issues I was working with.  It meant a lot to me and it helped me learn some important lessons.’”

***

Have you ever wished that, like Frank, you could stay effective in the middle of difficult situations?  Or deal with difficult people, or improve a relationship? Have you ever wanted to learn some “secret” that would make life clearer, happier and more fulfilling?