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I struggled with feedback early in my civilian career because I went about seeking it the wrong way.

 

In the military, we received direct feedback early, often, and with intensity.

 

In the civilian workforce, we have to ask for feedback and when we do get it, it's usually unstructured and unhelpful.

 

My first job out of the military was as a waiter at a top-tier chain restaurant with a robust training program. I learned a ton. I loved the work, the process, and the people. I thought for sure I would receive the kind of feedback I was used to.

 

I didn't.

 

After a couple months on the job, I pulled one of my managers aside – the one I worked with the most often – and proactively asked about meeting to review my performance.

 

She gave a half-assed response in the moment, and we never had the meeting. This happened over and over and over again even as I moved into more senior roles in higher paying industries.

 

It frustrated me.

 

But once I learned to find feedback loops in the nooks and crannies of my professional interactions, I was able to focus less on evaluating failure and more about quality control.

 

If an interaction makes me feel insecure, angry, insert any adverse reaction here, I assess and analyze that interaction internally by asking myself direct and intense questions and assess and analyze externally by asking the person I was interacting with indirect questions based on my internal assessment. (Pro tip: do this for positive interactions, too.)

 

If you struggle with this like I did, think less about success and failure as a binary and more about iterating and optimizing as you live and work.

 

Terminal leave is too late. Do the work that's right in front of you, and see what happens.

 

✍🏼 My name is Carey Kight. I was a flight line weapons troop in the Air Force. Now I help veterans build ⚡️SKILLS⚡️ to successfully transition from service-to-civilian.

 

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