Not All Feedback is Worthwhile

I’ve spoken at length about feedback loops and the benefits of processing it productively.

But sometimes, you just can’t.

Like too much of anything, feedback can become a burden if our focus is on generating lots of it rather than specific feedback of high quality.

An embroider might glance over thousands of lines in the making of a piece, search for the slightest of imperfections to be mend. When he spots one, he examines the line thread by thread, learning what he did wrong, fixing his mistakes and making adjustments for the next time he picks up the needle.

Another embroider of similar skill makes the same piece. But instead of glancing line by line, he examines each stich closely and carefully, immediately after making it.

Both fix their mistakes, both are better embroiders by the end of the piece, but the first finishes his piece in one sixteenth the time.

Even if he misses a mistake which the meticulous second embroider notices, the first embroider gives themselves sixteen more projects to learn it.

Too much feedback is poisonous. We can’t let ourselves get caught up in the illusion of perfect improvement.