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Beating the Odds

The Secret of Feedback

One day Hall of Fame baseball player Ted Williams watched a teammate return to the dugout after striking out.

“Tell me,” Williams said. “When you swung and missed that ball, did your bat go over the ball or under it?”

“What difference does it make,” the teammate wanted to know. “Either way, I struck out.”

It makes all the difference in the world, Williams explained. Knowing how you missed was the first step in preparing for the next time.

Williams was an expert on the art of receiving feedback. He examined what happened and used the information in his next attempt.

Feedback is available everywhere. Often the result of our actions will tell us what we’re doing right or wrong. For instance, if a golfer consistently hits a slice, the ball is telling him something about his swing.

You can bet that both the New York Giants and New England Patriots will be using feedback to prepare for Sunday’s Super Bowl. They played each other during the regular season, and they’re in a race to see who learned the most from that game.

Herb Brooks, mastermind of the U.S. Olympic hockey team’s gold medal in 1980, used feedback to make history. After the Soviet Union trounced his team 10-3 in a pre-Olympic exhibition, Brooks simply said, “We learned some things.” Two weeks later, the teams met again, and this time the U.S. won!

So if you’d like to be a champion, you must first do what Brooks, Williams and other did — become experts at receiving feedback.


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