THE BLOG

Tell Me I Suck, Please

05/29/2014 02:53 pm ET | Updated Jul 29, 2014
Diane Collins and Jordan Hollender via Getty Images

Otherwise I won't grow.

I thrive on negative feedback.

Sugar-coating never helped anyone, it only prolonged the inevitable.

The only road to change is through the trenches of truth  --  objective, hard-to-handle truth.

I was blessed that both of my parents were incredibly empathetic, they made me stay humble, and still help me to this day. But they're not afraid to give it to me straight.

One thing their empathy taught me was how to objectively understand the information I consumed, and take it for what it was, feedback.

"There is no failure, only feedback," they taught me.

If I was messing around and I got hurt, I understood that I shouldn't be angry that I got hurt, I should have been more careful while messing around. If I missed a game-winning shot in basketball, I wouldn't be mad as if I was entitled to the win -- I would reflect on what I did wrong and out-do myself the next time I had the opportunity.

This made me a hyper-critic of myself, but it has helped me more entrepreneurially than any other trait I have.

There is a beauty about objective feedback. Sometimes it hurts, but it's objective, and it means something. If you can take negative feedback, even when you want to emotionally retaliate, it will do eons for what you can achieve.

If Gordon Ramsey came into your restaurant today and snatched the food out of your fridge, ripped up your tiles and exposed the mold, threw it in your face and called you a "french pig," would you want to punch him in the face?

Sure, I probably would too. But would you listen? You fucking better.

When you're given blunt-trauma feedback, it stings. You will instinctively want to resist, because we are wired to take the path of least resistance. If you can get a hold of that though, not resist, analyze instead, think, meditate, then plan to make it better, that's innovation.

Sure, Steve Jobs got pissed when everybody was up-in-arms over the antennas in the iPhone 4 not working when you try to make a call. He even tried to play it off like there was no problem -- "No, you're holding it wrong," -- then giving out free cases to help the problem that apparently didn't exist.

You know what he ultimately did though? He fucking fixed it.

First he got pissed, then he tried to find an easy solution, then he thought about it harder, then he ultimately took the overwhelming negative feedback and pushed out a better model. Everyone called it innovation, but ultimately it was him overcoming his own ego, taking the feedback right in the face, and making a change.

You have to seek out negative feedback. When you do find it, you have to accept it, and react to it, or you're just being an idiot.

Elon Musk says when he is talking to friends or customers about any of his products at Tesla Motors, he seeks out negative feedback.

It's a ritual for him.

"Don't tell me what you like about it, tell me what you don't like about it."

So his friends give him the truth.

"That handle is a bit odd," or "that switch is a bit off."

He listens to feedback and makes a substantial effort to make it right. That's one reason he is so successful.

When the Model S's batteries were being criticized in the media as if they were fiery cauldrons of death and destruction, Elon instantly got his engineers to add a titanium hull to the Model S to ensure no more batteries would be punctured and catch fire (even though only two did, compared to the 200,000 car fires a year on gas-powered cars).

The point is to seek out negative feedback, empathize with that feedback, be honest with yourself, then make a change.

So, tell me I suck, please.

But more than that, tell me why I suck, please.

Otherwise,I won't grow.