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Using Feedback as Fuel. Coaching or Criticism - Round 2

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

Mindset Made Simple Tip #167 – Watch or listen HERE.

I received an email last week that didn’t sit well. In fact, I shared it with my business partner and anyone else around me that day.

It was feedback and the feedback told me in no uncertain terms that registration for my softball camp was unorganized, so the sender assumed the whole thing was going to be a joke…they were backing out!


My “you have no idea what you are talking about” reaction kicked in. “We run VERY organized camps”, I thought. “Go ahead, stack us up against anyone for organization!”

Oh boy! That’s a great mindset from someone who spends all day studying, writing, thinking and teaching about our RESPONSE-ABLIITY, right?

Here’s the kicker. She was right…at least she was partially right!

We normally use Ryzer for registration and that takes any chances of appearing unorganized out of the picture.

This time I offered a team discount for the camp. Instead of using the Ryzer discount function, I used a Google Sheet for registration.

Mistake #1.

I had been kicking myself for my horrible system before receiving this feedback. I knew the system flat-out sucked! And yet, I was taken aback by this email. How dare someone call me unorganized?

The camp went on and garnered a ton of great reviews. The registration system still sucked!

I mentioned last week in Coaching or Criticism that boiling others’ comments down to find a grain of truth was a way to grow. So eventually, I tried this advice on for size and sure enough, the woman was SO RIGHT! I was unorganized and since she had no prior experience with me, why would she think the next thing would be any different?

The feedback was accurate. I knew it before she ever sent it. So why did I get all in a tizzy?

I was listening to a podcast the other day that featured Collins Dobbs, a lecturer in management at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He mentioned a method he teaches when helping his students use feedback as fuel. I think it is a good addition to last week’s tip, knowing all of us can let feedback fester and “f” up what comes next.

Dr. Dobbs uses a PACE, SPACE and GRACE method for using feedback to our advantage.

First, he says that in situations that include strong feedback, the receiver holds the power. Understanding this dynamic can significantly shift our thoughts on hearing things that may, at first, seem uncomfortable.

If the receiver holds the power, we then talk about in using the power of our RESPONSE – ABILITY, he says the receiver has AGENCY…or a CHOICE on how she will respond to the data that was shared.

I love that…the other person is sharing “data”! How often do you get in a huff about data?

Thinking about feedback as data helps us look at it with a more decerning eye. We can also then think about the other variables that affect the data and how we may be receiving it.

Lastly, we can pull out the data that helps prove the hypothesis, i.e., if I hit the open cutter to the basket, we will score. “The coach wants me to look for the backdoor pass and she is suggesting that the actions I am taking do not allow that to happen. If I change my focus, I will see the cut. Huh! Maybe that is true?”

No matter how the data is delivered, I get to do something with it. That is AGENCY. Remember the study about old people who had agency in the nursing home living significantly longer than those who had less choice from Tip #145? (High and Rowles, 1995). When we feel we have the power, we live longer and respond better!

Our receiver’s agency will allow her to approach her data from a position of curiosity. She can then decide that acting on it now is not possible, but she will come back to it and see how the suggestion can be of help.

Or, she may say “Hey, I never looked at it from that angle, that’s great data” and change her approach.

As I mentioned last week, she can use her feedback filter and pull out the WHAT’S IMPORTANT NOW data and use that information to her advantage.

Or, she may choose to leave it where it is, depending on who sent the message, and use the data later if she hears more about another time.

I am not sure Dobbs intends his “pace” part of his system to relate totally to the pace at which we put the data into practice, but I like the idea, so we are going to run with it.

I will say that his SPACE step got me thinking A TON about how we manage “data” from those we spend a lot of time with or those for whom we have preconceived notions.

When we work with someone a lot (like our teams…or on the flip side of the equation, our managers), Dobbs says we “begin to have a shorthand or shorter expectations.” What he means by this is that we begin to look for certain actions or responses from people and we “narrow” the possibilities of their intentions or messages.

We go as far as narrowing what our responses may be!

This goes back to our mental administrative assistant, our Reticular Activating System. Our RAS finds what it is looking for. (Read more about the RAS in Tip #1 and Tip #66 – What Are You Looking for Today? I Bet You’ll Find It!).

Our RAS helps us filter the millions of data points in our environment every day. Four things automatically get through this filter. #1. Someone calling our name #2. Anything that threatens our safety (physically or psychologically) 3. When someone is interested in us 😉 and #4. Data to prove our beliefs

Think about how #4 affects our ability to manage feedback!

If we BELIEVE the coach is singling us out, that is what we are looking for as we receive data. We have narrowed the chances that it means anything else.

If we already know we have screwed things up, what we hear about that screw-up only amplifies what we are looking for and we lose the message in the mess we created before the message was sent…just like the unorganized camp system!

Learning to give data its own SPACE is critical to our ability to use it as power. It’s in the SPACE where we can find solutions.

We can breathe. We can ask where else this could lead or what other thing we may need to consider. It can allow us to see that there may be other possibilities and other positions…and that alone can help us understand the data more fully and then use our agency to make decisions that improve our performance.

And that is where the last step comes in. SPACE leads to GRACE. Anytime someone sends feedback our way, they are offering us the opportunity to improve…one way or another. Taking a step back and offering a bit of GRACE to that heated moment on the court can change our energy and our actions.

None of this is easy…because it’s not our nature. But we control our pace and space when we compete.

We, too, can manage our pace and space as we gather data from those around us…and a little grace is always a good thing!

Here is to managing data and using it to make the most out of the next moment!


P.S. Hire me to work with your team for one day or all year. Let’s put together a mental training plan that works for your team. Shoot me an email at and let’s get started!

Julie Jones

Mental Performance Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946


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