Your Turn…What Do I Suck At?

Looking back at a lot of my previous posts I think we can all agree that I haven’t been terribly shy in pointing out many of the things that we as humans have been screwing up for years. I suppose it’s a gift. Well, today the tables have turned.

You see, my friend Hal Elrod has a book coming out next week called “The Miracle Morning.” And because Hal thinks I’m all that and a bag of chips, he let me read it early. It’s a great book. I highly recommend it! In fact, thanks to Hal I am writing this at 5 AM…on purpose! You can get a few free chapters of the book by going to his website. Just finish reading this first.

Towards the end of the book Hal talks about something he calls “The E-mail That Will Change Your Life.” The idea behind it is to send an e-mail to people you know asking for honest feedback on things that you can improve because sometimes you’re just too close to the problem.

Well, I’m never one to shy away from a challenge so I wrote the following e-mail and sent it to about 50 people including my wife and family. My friends and clients. And even people that I don’t really know very well. I also printed it out and gave it to my kids and talked to them about how I can be a better Daddy. Apparently my Lego building skills are not meeting my 4 year olds expectations.

Here is the E-mail I Sent

Thanks in advanced for reading this! It’s not a very easy e-mail for me to send but it is an important one, so I sincerely appreciate you investing the time and energy in reading (and hopefully responding) to it!

I’m only sending this out to a select group of people in my life that I have some type of relationship with…either personal, professional or both. Some of you know me well. Some of you don’t. Some of you like me. Some of you not so much. Some of you are going to think this is awesome. Some of you are going to be creeped out and not know how to respond. It’s all on purpose and part of what makes this so difficult.

So, here’s what I need.

I’m hoping you could take a few minutes and give me some honest feedback about what you feel are my areas of improvement. My weaknesses. In other words, 2 or 3 things that I suck at. It can be anything. Personal, professional, relationship, etc. There is nothing off limits. And don’t sugarcoat it either. I won’t be offended by your response. In fact, the more brutally honest you are, the more leverage that will give me to make some positive changes in my life.

No, I am not in the throws of a mid life crisis.

If you want to include a few positive things to make yourself feel better, go for it as long as you still give me 2-3 things I could improve. That’s what I’m really interested in, so PLEASE don’t feel bad.

I have never sent out a request like this before and really have no idea what to expect but I feel that in order for me to grow as a person, I need to get a more accurate picture of how I am showing up to the people in my life. And in order for me to become the person that I need to be and create the life I want, I need your feedback!

Thank you! And if there is anything I can do to return the favor, please do not hesitate to ask!

And the Results I Got

It’s been an interesting social experiment so far. I learned an awful lot about myself and the people in my life. For example, not a single person in my family responded. Not even my wife. Perhaps they just couldn’t think of anything that I needed to improve! Or more likely they are afraid of hurting my feelings. The silence is feedback in and of itself. Maybe they see me as being too sensitive to take their feedback. Or maybe they think that I have finally lost my mind.

A few of my friends responded with some great feedback. Although they did tip toe through it a bit. Some of the most unlikely responders were clients or people I don’t know very well. I suppose they had nothing to lose because their feedback was very honest and incredibly helpful!

One or two thought this was a really bad idea.

My kids didn’t hesitate to answer. I guess they don’t have the same filter that we grownups have. I barely finished my sentence before they jumped in:

“Take some time to think abo…”

“OK, I have a few. How many do you need?”

They were so quick to respond that it could only mean that they have been holding onto this stuff for a while. Internalizing it. Had I never asked, I would never know that my kids needed these things from me until it showed up in some form of rebellious act like a face tattoo.

So, Now It’s Your Turn

What would you do with an honest list of the things you could use to improve if you were just able to get your ego out of the way long enough to listen with an open mind?

Sure, some of the responses will be tough to hear. I never said this was an easy experiment. But guess what. You’re not perfect. Far from it actually. And you do a bunch of things that piss off a bunch of people without realizing it. But what if you were more aware of it and had the opportunity to change it if you wanted? There’s a lot of power in that!

So, are you up for giving it a shot? If you find yourself curled up in the fetal position at the thought of it, you might want to hold off on this one for now. But if you are really curious and you are confident that you can read the responses with an open mind, give it a shot. Write your letter and send it out.

In the meantime, the part you were all waiting for. It’s now your turn. I’m opening up my letter to everyone that reads this blog post. Tell me what you think I can improve on. If we are DFF’s, how can I improve our relationship? If you just read this blog, what do you think would make it better? And if you received the original e-mail and you never responded, it’s never too late to respond.

So, tap into your inner troll and let me have it. What do I suck at (besides using the word “suck” in far too many titles of my blog post titles)?

Featured image courtesy of Nomadic Lass licensed via Creative Commons.

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  • “Yo Pal” Hal Elrod

    Marc, thank you for paying it forward, my friend! Excellent post by the way. You remain one of my favorite (possibly #1) bloggers on this thing called the Internet. :^)

    • Marc Ensign

      Well thank you for the great idea! You rock Hal!

  • Conrad Deas

    Marc great post as always (well since I’ve read a few over the past few weeks). I’m glad Hal introduced me to you. You let me know I suck on Twitter, thanks. I did the email challenge and I surprisingly didn’t get as much feedback as I’d have liked to. The feedback I got back was great though! My wife was the FIRST one with feedback lol and it came quick. Great idea about asking the kids, I didn’t do that but I will now. I had people tell me they got my email and said they were going to respond but still haven’t. I’m thinking of setting up a Google form so people can submit responses anonymously if they’d be more comfortable that way. And then texting the link out to those whose phone number I have. Anyway thanks again for a great post.

    • Marc Ensign

      If I had to do it over again, I think I would do it anonymously. Too many people weren’t comfortable responding. My first response was a client of mine. One of the last was my wife. What does that mean?!?!?!

  • audaciouslady

    Marc, thanks for letting me know when my blog posts suck. :)

    • Marc Ensign

      I’m only willing to let you know when your blog posts suck if you are willing to let me know when mine suck! Deal?

  • Michelle_Mazur

    As a speaker, all I ever do is getting feedback on what I can improve upon. I’m actually super comfortable hearing what I could do better…as a speaker. I read your post and had a feeling of dread because wow this is brave. Then again, if you ask the people you love the most, it will be all right (or they just won’t answer).

    • Marc Ensign

      It’s worse than feedback as a speaker because you have to see these people again. They are your friends, family and clients. Most wouldn’t give me a straight answer. They either refused to respond, ignored it or just gave a softball answer like “you need to drive slower.”

  • Dave i

    No responses to my request. Lts of declines due to being uncomfortable. Me worried now. Lol.

    • Marc Ensign

      Has it gotten any better? It’s been a while. I had the same response. And the people I specifically asked for a response said they couldn’t. That actually made it worse. So, you have something in mind but can’t share it with me? Great, thanks.

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