Feedback and Fishnets

‘Feedback is the breakfast of champions.’

Attributed to Ken Blanchard, this is a quote many of us will have heard before.  However, if feedback really is so marvellous why is it that many of us break out in hives, hide under our duvets or cower in the corner of our offices at the thought of either giving or receiving feedback?

Fishnets.

Fishnets are the beliefs we have about ourselves which are unhelpful and untrue.  Beliefs such as ‘I’m not good enough,’ ‘I’m stupid,’ ‘I can’t do that,’ ‘No one loves me.’ The list is endless, and my goodness how they can they hold us back if we allow them to. 

They can stop us giving or receiving the gift of feedback. They can keep us stuck where we are rather than moving forward in our lives.  Whether it’s going after the dream job we’ve always wanted, moving on from a relationship that is no longer bringing us joy or just being happy in our own skin. 

To be honest I thought I had this feedback game nailed. When you begin to understand what a powerful tool it can be in terms of helping us develop, you begin to be a little more open to receiving and giving it.  

Initially you might not like hearing feedback, but just like going to the gym, dentist or supermarket shopping you know that it is good for you and a necessity if you want to take better care of yourself and other people.

It’s been two weeks since I sent out the reviewer copies of my book and I am starting to realise that regarding my relationship with feedback, I may have been deluding myself just an incy, wincy bit.  Well ok a lot!  

When I began working with the wonderful guys @Richard Hagen and @Martyn Pentecost from @MPowr Publishing we had some very lengthy discussions about how I would feel writing a book that some people would not get or like.

At the time I remember saying it was fine I knew this would be the case.  I would much prefer to have a book that divides readers rather than one which walks the middle line and consequently ends up being something that is soon forgotten. 

Nine months on from those initial conversations, I am proud that I have remained true to those beliefs.  With the best will in the world a book with the title When Fish Climb Trees and a bright pink cover could not be described as safe.

But now my book is out there being reviewed, all those brave words and actions are coming back to haunt me.  In spite of knowing I made the right choices those darn fishnets are trying their very best to escape and scupper things.  

What are your fishnets?  Do you have strategies for managing them?

One of my strategies is Mel B (yes that’s right, Scary Spice from the Spice Girls).

Right now, her and Mike Tyson are battling away on an almost daily basis.  However, I’m pleased to report that Mel B is hanging in there and reigning supreme. If, at this point, you are wondering whether I have lost the plot, I really haven’t but you will have to read my book to get the whole story! 

In spite of my fishnets valiantly trying to bring me down the reviewers’ feedback I have received so far could not have been more brilliant.  They have been wonderfully honest about what really worked for them and what didn’t land as well.  Some have given me ideas for next steps and opportunities to pursue.  I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful group of reviewers.

Back in June last year when the book was still very much a dream, I had some clear aims: 

1.    The reader would feel as though we were curled up on the sofa having a chat about life.

2.    It would be easy to read so people did not put it in the same category as going to the gym, dentist or supermarket shopping.

3.    It would evoke a range of emotions but most especially laughter because it really does soothe the soul.


And it would seem from the feedback I have received so far; I am achieving my goal:

“This has to be the prettiest, funniest and most practical leadership book that I have ever read and actually enjoyed from start to finish.”

“When Fish Climb Trees” is an engaging and funny romp through the principles of Leadership- perfect for new managers wanting to be the best boss they can be, a leader of people towards a common goal.”

“I loved how you relate your most challenging experiences to feelings, and how you recognised this to connect with people. I also loved your regular references to food - cake, chips, chocolate, coffee and vodka - again, whilst it is done as a sense of fun, I found it adds to the sensory experience for the reader.” 

“Mel lives and writes from her heart.  This book delivers a brutally and beautifully honest narrative about the part of our life we call work.   By engaging with the awesome online tools and techniques that accompany the text, Mel dares the reader to look in the magic mirror and see their true self and potential.  Are you brave enough to give it a go?” 

Now, not only do I have Mel B in my corner doing battle with those dastardly fishnets and Mike Tyson I have the feedback of my lovely reviewers.  

So, if you currently have difficulty giving or receiving the gift of feedback, I would urge you to spend some time considering your fishnets and how you can best deal with them.  Should you need any help I am always here!

When Fish Climb Trees will be available from 11th April 2019. Pre-order your copy now at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2FjUXFw

Thinking About Writing a Book? Read This to Find Out What It’s Really Like

Have you ever thought you might like to write a book?

Perhaps it wasn’t a conscious thought, more of a fleeting idea that floated into your head and disappeared in a millisecond.  Or a fantasy that involved you sitting in a beautiful old cottage on the top of the cliff, looking out to sea. Sipping a glass of wonderfully mellow red wine whilst you created a book which critics would wonder at, knowing they had found the next Stephen Covey or J.K. Rowling.

Now maybe it wasn’t like that but if you have ever wondered what it would be like to put pen to paper or more likely fingertips to keyboard, I thought it might be helpful to share my adventure so far, transitioning to business owner, mum and soon to be published author.

I’m doing so with the knowledge that everyone’s journey is different but for those of you that may be contemplating this challenge, the reality of what my life has been really like over the past six months may either propel you to take action or help you decide in this moment, right here, right now, you would rather focus your energy and attention on something else.

Let me start with an overall summary: writing my first book has without doubt been the best thing that I have ever done in my working life and possibly my life, save for giving birth to my two wonderful daughters who will forever be my greatest gift to myself and the rest of the world.

Writing the book has also been demanding and mentally challenging. 

When I started my business in 2015, I thought I might like to write a book for two reasons.  The first is that whilst I am not an academic, I think buried deep inside there is a part of me that would like to be (after all my dad is an academic and I have spent the majority of my working life in the education arena).

 The second is that having a book is a great way to promote my business.  After all people buy from people so what better way for people to get a sense of who I am and what I offer than by reading my book.  If they like what they read, then surely, they are more likely to want to work with me than someone else. 

 And this brings me to my first learning point:

 Writing and publishing a book will put you out there in a way that nothing else has before.

We all know that one of most people’s greatest fears is speaking in public.  It is up there with dying and the fear of failure.  Well I can relate to that; I managed to get away with not speaking in public until I was 25.  Fortunately, I overcame my dread, so much so that now public speaking is a key part of the strategy to grow my business.

Writing a book doesn’t appear anywhere on the fear list but let me tell me it should because when I set out on this journey, I never considered how much terror it could generate.  When the ‘Oh S­_ _ t’ moment hit (and I was only a few weeks into the writing process) I realised that through the book I would show myself to the world in a way that I never had before.  And the thought was scary, really scary.

It gave me the heebie geebies because like all of us deep down inside I want to be liked by everyone.  However, through this process there may be people who decide they don’t like me and quite frankly think my view of the world is rubbish.

In spite of this realisation,  I decided to carry on and now we are on the home straight I would be lying if I said I didn’t swing from brazenly saying ‘it doesn’t matter if people don’t like my thinking or agree with it’ to ‘how crap will I feel if people laugh at what I have to say?’

Writing a book is brave. I would urge you to consider whether you are daring enough to show yourself to the world.  If you are, then I applaud you for your courage.

My second learning relates to getting the book done, the actual writing: 

Don’t do it alone.  Find support to help you write your book.

As I sit here now, I realise just how naïve I was to believe I could write a book without any support.  If you decide you are going to do this then you will discover there are many options out there to help you achieve your goal. 

Originally, I was planning to self-publish my book but then through a network of mine I met Richard Hagen and Martyn Pentecost from MPowr Publishing and my whole approach changed.  I signed a publishing agreement and also paid for their development programme designed to help me create a first draft manuscript.  In effect I paid for a book coach.

Martyn, my coach, was an absolute godsend and I will forever be grateful for his wisdom and support.  Could I have written a book without his support?  Probably, but it would have taken years rather than a matter of months.

Also, and this is more important to me, Martyn helped me unlock my authoring style (which I never knew I had) and elevate my writing ability.  This will ultimately mean it is a far better read for anyone who decides to part with their hard-earned cash to see what I have to say.

If you have decided you are brave enough to embark on this journey and have rallied your support team, here is the final learning I would offer up:

Be prepared for the book to consume you.

Writing a book takes time, lots of time.  By time I am not just talking about physical time but the time you spend in your head instead of being fully present at work or at home with your family and friends.

For me and other authors I have spoken with, the process of writing a book is all consuming.  Perhaps you believe you will be able to do it on a part-time basis.  Personally, if I had adopted that approach, I know I would not have produced the best book I could.

For six months it dominated my existence and even now when the work has transferred to the publishers it is still a constant thought.

For six months I didn’t have a lie in because my best writing time was 6am or even earlier if my body would allow me to get up.  On holiday I was up two or three hours before everyone else so I could fit in my writing time without it impacting anyone else.  And in the final stages when I knew I needed to completely immerse myself in the process I asked my lovely clients if they would give me a couple of weeks grace.

 They did and for that I will always be grateful.

And this is my final learning.  If you are going to do this then you must be prepared to let it consume your life.  Now some people may consider this a sacrifice, but I never did.  Not once did I complain or think I don’t want to do this.  I enjoyed every moment of the writing process even when I had writer’s block and Martyn was encouraging me to re-write something for the umpteenth time.

And so, my fellow potential authors this is my experience to date.  You can probably guess that I could talk for hours on the subject, but I think I have said enough for the moment.  I hope sharing my experience has been useful and my insights may help you make the decision that is right for you.

 My book Fish Climb Trees will be available for purchase from Thursday 11th April 2019.