Do You Have a Challenge Network?

So what is a challenge network? The shortest way I can describe it is a person, or ideally a group of people, who are completely transparent with you with the view for you to better yourself. I am so grateful I came across this podcast. The concept of criticism being negative is based on the receivers interpretation. There is certainly an art to delivering criticism too but that is for another day. If it is approached by the receiver with a learning mindset and the aspiration to better oneself, then surely criticism is a good thing?

Podcast Name: TED Talks Daily
Episode Name: How to Love Criticism – Work Life with Adam Grant

Episode Length: 35 mins

Episode Link: Click Here
Date: 21 March 2018

Or for those who prefer to read, below is a short summary we have put together for you…

Imagine yourself in a meeting of your high-level peers – the top managers of your company – and the CEO pulls out a list of the 100 worst managers; you’re at top of the list.

While our ego prepares to mount a counter-attack at any ounce of criticism, the staff at Bridgewater Associates – one of the world’s most successful hedge funds – have made a culture around radical transparency. That means every brutally honest opinion and criticism is out in the open. They believe this culture is the key to their success.

When we think of criticism, we often think of embarrassment, pain, and ridicule. Studies show that we tend to drop criticizers from our life or at very least, avoid them at all costs; instead of embracing feedback, we run to our support network for assurance: best friend, nice colleague, mum – our cheerleaders.

There’s another type of network that (according to the podcast) we all need: a challenge network. This is the group of people that you trust to push you to get better. They tell you the stuff that you don’t want to hear, but you need to know. Bridgewater is one big challenge network.

But a challenge network can only help you if you’re ready to listen.

Did you imagine yourself on the top of that 100 worst managers list? That was Kieran Rao, a manager at Bridgewater. His response? “It’s just data – objective data – about what I’m like. I’d rather know how bad the bad is and how good the good is, so I can do something about it.”

When we get data, our ego kicks in to try and explain the reason for the data: this is called the proving mode. But there’s a higher level, called the improving mode, where we reflect on the data to see how we can harness it and improve.

Reflection often gets hijacked by our ego, but when we can push through, Ray Dalio (Bridgewater’s CEO) says, “pain + reflection = progress”.

So when you get negative feedback, what can you do? You’ve already received criticism, so it can’t be avoided, but there’s a second score: how well you took the feedback.

After listening to this podcast I am keen to develop my Challenge Network – I will keep you updated as I progress.

BW

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