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Paul Kimmel

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Peeling the Banana

June 01, 2010

A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age.--Robert Frost

When you approach a banana the stem visually suggests that you tug on it to peel the banana. Of course, peeling a banana from the stem leaves those stringy things called "Phloem bundles". I don't like eating them. I don't think anyone does. Apparently monkeys hold the stem and peel from the distil pistil, the other end. Peeled from the other end the Phloem bundles come off with the peel.

Each of us is given an early perspective from our parents and maybe older siblings. Depending on that world view or lack thereof we have perspective and basic ideas about how things are, how they should be, and what we think. My parents are intelligent, but have a finite world view. Fortunately I discovered early on that if I read and learn about other people's perspectives I become privy to a broader perspective and more possibilities present themselves. When I am not reading technical books or Elmore Leonard, David Baldacci, and Stephen King I read things like Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore and How the Mind Works by Stephen Pinker. Moore used to teach at Olivet College in Michigan and now gets paid (I assume) huge sums to talk about how he thinks to companies like Microsoft, and Pinker is a Harvard Professor in the Department of Psychology. I exchanged a couple of emails with Moore a while back, but don't know Pinker. What I do know is that for the price of the book, I can learn a little bit about their individual, considered opinions and can gain a much broader world view. To borrow from Robert Frost, "…that has made all of the difference".

On that note, my friend Joe Kunk now has a column in Visual Studio magazine. It is his first column, and he earned the opportunity. Joe got his first reader feedback recently. Part of the feedback from Igor R. was "Thank you for a GOOD article". Joe was happy to receive some positive feedback all the way from Australia. One of my first thoughts was "congratulations, but keep in mind that you will get bad ones too". That isn't really how I think about such things though. Yes, we all get good, bad, and indifferent feedback and if one rides the wave of feedback then it can lead to feeling good about good feedback and lousy when the feedback is bad. Instead here is what I told him and what I believe: "enjoy the good reviews, but consider thinking about feedback differently. Instead of categorizing feedback as good, bad, or neutral, consider changing your thinking from 'is it good' to 'can I derive or return value' from the feedback. If you can derive or create value then all feedback is useful."

The mind is a powerful thing. When applied creatively to the same phenomena like a good or bad review it creates a uniformly good opportunity to derive or create value. Value whether received or given is always good.

Consider thinking about feedback whether good, bad, or indifferent as an opportunity to derive or return value and then all feedback is useful to someone.

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