How well do you accept input?

"Are you ready, boots? Start walking..."


When I was 4-5 years old, my grandma gave me cowboy boots for Christmas.  I remember telling her I didn't like them. "They make my feet look funny."  She laughed and said she would return the boots. My mother was mortified and gave me a stern lecture about gratitude.

I never wore cowboy boots again.

I remember the incident well.  (If you can trust one's memory.)

Then, one day when we were newlyweds, Billy points out one of my friends wearing cowboy boots and asks me why I didn't own a pair: "you could definitely pull off that look."

Um.  O.K.

This was a new category of thinking.  My husband was making a suggestion about my wardrobe, and I wasn't sure how to take it. The insecure me started down a rabbit hole and my mind spun in a thousand directions.

Does he not like my current look? Is my California casual too casual? Do all Southern women have cowboy boots? What is he really saying? Am I in need of an upgrade? Am I out of step with fashion? Does he hate how I dress?

[Aside: if you're a guy reading this post, feel free to view this story as a cautionary tale when it comes to commenting on your wife's fashion.]

Hmm.  I sat back for awhile and thought about it.  What if what he's really saying is that I could pull off wearing cowboy boots?

Is it possible? Can I take something at face value?

When I cleared my head I realized the best way to respond was not to look for an insult; to be slow to take a comment as an offense.  Eventually I realized a few truths.

1. I can decide to believe if someone is FOR me.

2. Feedback is ultimately for MY benefit.

3. Input gives me the opportunity to grow.

One of my favorite writers, Seth Godin, wrote a post (here) with this bottom line: advice (input) is not the same as criticism - to process, try the advice on!  If it works, great!  If not, move along.

I try and remember this every time I wear my boots.