Yesterday as I stormed up and down the lines of trees I planted 4 months prior (we are now spraying them for protection) I racked my brain for a topic to write about in the evening. The working week has once again consumed my creative thought process. Creativity was a hungry crow longingly watching a carcass being devoured by a destruction of cats. No way to the meat. No chance of focusing on it's quarry - a post for the blog.
I arrived home from work in the welsh wilderness to my wonderful girls playing in the garden, Bear having a well earned nap and a lovely message from a dear friend many miles away. It was the second piece of positive feedback I'd received in the week, I instantly felt rejuvenated and inspired. The weariness that consumed me (from the arduous week sweating in a chemical suit in 20 degrees on a steep bank) instantly dissipated. I felt it leave, like an exorcism. Latest research tell us that we all embark on each day with a pot of will power, over the course it gets emptied. True, different people have different sized pots, but they are generally all exhausted by the end of our day. Sleep is the filling station. Positive encouragement is the only other fuel that this tank will accept. Ben you just sent a gallon of gas from the states, I no longer feel daunted by the thought of writing until 1am - usually the case after Bella and I've put the kids to bed, recovered the house to a place where our minds can be clear and spent some peaceful time together catching our breath with some Yoga, or an episode of GoT.
Feedback occurs in many forms but the principle is that outputs of a system are routed back as inputs creating a cause and effect circuit loop that spirals to a point of efficiency and maximum effectiveness.
On aeroplanes of all types feedback is created in the control column by varying methods, it is essential that a pilot is given this feedback to guide their inputs and prevent excessive wavering from the desired course. It has the same importance for all our personal journeys.
As parents we have just discovered the immense power of positive re-inforcement - hence the picture above. We are well on course to becoming the real life versions of the characters played by Dustin Hoffman and Barbera Streisand in "Meet the Fockers". Aria from an early age developed a fear of going for a poo. She got a bit constipated at about 6 months, before she could understand anything about the process it became a painful ordeal for her. At first we thought that it must be a physiological thing - a condition. Bella took her to the docs about it many times - she took up a diet of movicol and smoothies. As she got older and mastered the toilet for number 1's we could tell that it was a psychological issue. She was visibly holding on for days out of fear. It was frustrating for us not being able to communicate that it was good to go, and that she'd feel so much better if she did. The only thing we could do was celebrate each and every brown parcel like it was a gift from the gods and pour her with praise and affection each time she delivered the goods. We dance, cheer, hug, high five her, smile with abandon and give her a star. It was and still is though, genuine, the pride that we feel when daily she goes and completes a task that is very rarely celebrated in this world.
That is important too - for feedback to be positive and constructive it has to be honest and provided unconditionally. In any other form it'll be destructive. What if the feedback provided to an aircrafts control column was too soft, too encouraging for the pilot to make excessive movements?
Personally I know that positive re-inforcement helps my creative process, it reassures me that the path I'm on is a good one, and spurs me on. Equally important though is negative feedback. Negative feedback can too be both constructive and destructive. The other sapping element of my working week was dealing with some destructive negative feedback from our contract supervisor. Our relationship has become toxic and it was used as a tool to gain leverage in a strange and futile battle for power that is in no way aiding the efficiency of the job we are doing or our execution of it. I think If you are certain that the feedback you are receiving is destructive and not being provided to help further your cause It is ok to throw it away and defend your actions or method. I find it helps with my own convictions. This however is a delicate balance to get right. It is all too easy to throw away constructive negative feedback out of pride. I am certainly guilty of it. For a period I was very resolute that the best route to the flight deck was through integrated training. I drew up an operating and financial plan for this route. Bella had concerns over the lifestyle, my parents definitely weren't sold. They all gave inputs that as it happens form the core elements of the route I am now on. At the time though, I couldn't see the possibilities they were suggesting because I was being obtuse that my plan was the only way. I couldn't accept new ideas because I couldn't let go of the one in my head.
Constructive negative feedback is vital. It will set you back on the right course if you've deviated or it will serve as the catalyst to knock you totally off it if you don't have the conviction to stay it.
So with all that being said, I'd love your feedback - Positive or negative, constructive or destructive. It is all invaluable.
I want to continually improve this blog, be that visually, in terms of it's content, it's layout, and accessibility. If you've had any problems navigating through it, or find that aesthetically it doesn't work for you, I want to know about it. I want it to appeal to and reach many people - although I accept there will be plenty who find the whole concept alien. A quote from an old school friend who enquired to one of my two closest "What's Dyf trying to do?"
"Become a commercial pilot"
"Well it's hard cheese ain't it - I want to be an astronaut but it's not happening"
They are the two options we all face - begrudgingly accept our lot or fight tooth and nail to achieve what it is we most desire, along the way accepting advice, learning, improving and becoming our goal.
So please email, Facebook, Tweet, or shout your thoughts and questions at me, they will be most welcome.