Comfortably inverted, I sat back staring at the fluorescent lights, listening to Billy Ocean as the hygienist carefully navigated my mouth with her primitive mining instruments. Small talk in this situation has a limited success rate since the talk box of one of the participants usually is otherwise occupied.
What else can you do in this position but think?
Lulled by my cozy chair and easy listening, I let my mind wander (and wonder). The formal evaluation process of a dental visit is pretty fascinating. Like a job interview, an athletic challenge or performing a new song for an audience, an independent third party is assessing your abilities related to a particular discipline.
It was my mid-year performance review.
Did I meet my assigned objectives?
Was my level of commitment enough?
Scenario #1 – Receive the all clear, no cavities message = internal fist bump
Scenario #2 – Cavities + the old drill and fill = internal desire for improvement
Feedback loops are two node systems, where the output of one node can eventually influence the input of that same node. A conversation between two people (nodes) is a feedback loop. The words that come out of my mouth will influence the words that come back to my ears. As with most experiences in life, feedback loops can be both positive and negative.
From a biological perspective, positive feedback loops occur when the result of an experience leads to an increase of that experience. On the other hand, a negative feedback loop occurs when the result of an experience leads to a decrease in that experience.
Here are some examples courtesy of the Albert Blog:
POSITIVE FEEDBACK LOOP – Apple Ripening – When one apple ripens, it releases a gas called ethylene. As the other apples are exposed to ethylene, they being to ripen as well.
NEGATIVE FEEDBACK LOOP – Temperature Regulation – When our body temperature gets too high, we sweat. The sweat cools us down. When our body temperature gets too low, we get goosebumps, which makes hair stand up creating more warmth. The goosebumps worked a bit better when we were hairy apes.
From a philosophical perspective, both positive and negative feedback present you with an opportunity, and both are essential to physical, mental and spiritual growth. More importantly, your reaction to the information generated by the feedback loop is the real difference maker. You are the only person that can control your response to a stimulus.
Positive feedback supports our innate human requirement to feed our own ego. When someone tells you that you are awesome at something, it feels good, right? Success usually creates more success, unless it creates complacency.
Negative feedback can either motivate you to be better or drive you to be bitter. While the delivery of feedback can significantly influence its effects, the recipient of the feedback is presented with an opportunity to use it or be used by it.
Is negative feedback really negative if it inspires a positive change?
Using feedback to your advantage requires a balance of confidence and humility.
Confidence is a product of preparation and dedication. Humility is understanding that you are not the only prepared and dedicated individual on the planet.
For the record, no cavities, Mom.