I was having dinner with friends and the conversation veered in many directions. Not sure how we got on the topic but I was relating following story.
Between my career in broadcasting and my current career, there was a period of casting about, during which I worked in the family business, a very small New York based carpentry and masonry contractor called Cambria Construction. After a couple of years mixing cement, carrying cinder blocks, taping and spackling, tarring roofs and fetching coffee, I started learning the estimating side of the business, including reading architectural drawings, engineering specs etc. I used to be the guy who would scour the publications that listed requests for bid on all types of city, state and federal projects in publications like Commerce Business Daily and would go down to the old World Trade Two building, where the US General Services Administration would dole out bid documents and rolls of project plans, elevations, cross sections and details.
Imagine my horror/elation when I came upon a project that involved pigeon proofing a Federal Office building in Manhattan. The project basically involved affixing steel spikes to the stone lintels along the building’s façade. You can imagine the deterrence factor. But I have to say that I always imagined that offending fowl would end up impaled like pigeon kabobs.
What my friend and talented management consultant Andrew Cohn pointed out to me is that pigeons don’t land with their ass. They land with their feet.
So even when we are forced to learn the hard way, we tend to absorb at the extremity. There is no need to get hurt to our core or internalize fear that prevents us from taking the next leap, or looking for the next safe landing. There’s a reason we lean in to something new, get feedback, pull back, regroup, come at it from another angle. Feedback doesn’t kill us, it makes us smarter and better prepared.