One way to improve our learning curve on writing good documents (or creating good presentations) is to stop being overly reactive to executive feedback.
A better approach, instead, is to use executive feedback to better understand what good looks like. We can do that by digging into the why behind their feedback or by asking them. When we repeatedly do that, we’ll hone our gut for what makes a good doc. That’s most of the battle.
So, the next time you find yourself asking – “Will this doc work for x executive?”, consider the reframing the question to – “Is this doc clearly laying out my argument for someone who isn’t as close to the problem as I am?”
If the answer to the latter is yes, the former follows as the byproduct of a good product.
We were talking about a few scratches and blemishes on our wooden flooring the other day. Our friends reframed it for us when they described the blemishes as “character.”
Over the past weeks, we’ve been joking about how we’ve been adding (or discovering) character throughout our home.
Jokes aside though, that reframing was powerful for three reasons.
First, it brought a sense of liberation that comes with accepting imperfections (like bubbles on a screen protector).
Second, it drove home just how little others care about the blemishes we pay attention.
And, third, it drove home the importance of mis-steps and imperfections in shaping our character. Character is a set of mental and moral qualities that are distinct to us. We wouldn’t develop them without those blemishes.
Whenever the list gets long and overwhelming, I find myself reminded of Anne Lamott’s wonderful story.
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day.
We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead.
Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”