Monday, April 20, 2009

Break Out the Red Pen!

When I was a corporate trainer for one of the top communications companies, after we had completed our 6 to 7 week New Hire training class, we had a graduation day. It was something I felt was owed to these hard working individuals who had made it through training for customer service representatives. They had to endure long hours and no time off for illness or any reason. If they did, we had to let them go due to the intense and compacted training they needed to do the job.

So we usually had a class of about 40 people and we’re lucky to have 15 left by the close of our 6-week class. So on graduation day, I would give them a chance to provide feedback on my training, being as honest as they felt, and no names needed to be provided. I wanted the brutal honesty. If I was a bad trainer, I wanted to know it but also what they felt I did wrong and suggestions on how to improve my training.

It was something I looked forward to the most. Most of what I got was great, but occasionally I did get the brutal honest feedback, and I feel it made me a better person. I wasn’t out to get the person who gave it to me, but I felt, others could sometimes see things you are often to close to see. That’s where I believe we can all use some brutal honesty.

However, I think we have to be in the mood to hear it. Sometimes others want to offer their dose of brutal honesty to us, but we aren’t ready to hear it. I think a warning is in order. You have to mentally be prepared to deal with their honesty. You have to see it also for what it is, honest feedback based on their perceived opinion of you at that moment. A hard pill to swallow for some of us. We don’t want to hear any negative. All we look for is praise and compliments.

It’s like the red pen circling our errors we have made in life. Remember when you received your paper back from your teacher in school, only to find it riddled with red pen, marks of correction? How did you handle it? If you were like me, a perfectionist in every sense of the word, I hated it. I didn’t see it until my high school years, that it was a way to improve. A way to better yourself. A way to be a better person to those around you.

In high school, I looked forward to the red pen marks. I was always looking for how to be a better person, and the people, who could provide that kind of feedback for me, were the experts in their field, my teachers. Who better to provide feedback and correction on my English paper than my English teacher? My parents could offer some suggestions but unless they had an English degree, I had to wait for the red pen! I knew I was getting better when the red pen marks became so few, that they didn’t appear any longer.

I didn’t know it then but I do now, how those red pen marks made me a better student. It’s all about not so much pointing out the negative things, but on how to improve on the positive things. That is where God spends so much loving time with us.

Many times we are faced with similar situations in life. Times where I believe, God breaks out the red pen in our lives. Sometimes we are so stubborn, we choose to look at a difficult situation God has placed in our life, and all we choose to see is the red pen, all over our paper. We don’t want to go back and fix it, we don’t want to hear what is wrong, we simply want to see a great grade on top and move on to something else.

When we take that attitude of refusing to fix things that God wants us to fix, He may allow the situation to pass, but brings it back to us in a different form.

Many times as a teacher for my daughter, when she gets frustrated learning something new, and wants to quit rather than see the lesson before her, I try again. Many times, I have to see that my attitude or method of teaching her that new concept isn’t getting through to her. I have to change my approach so she learns without me losing my patience with her, or having her end up in tears. I have to try a different way of teaching her that concept. My methods weren’t able to reach her in the manner I needed it to, so she was missing the point. The goal is to get her to learn something new. Something, that will make her a better student and move up a level.

God is the same; He presents situations to us, many times in different manners so we can learn what He needs us to before we can move up another level. We may get frustrated and cry. We may run from our situation, but God keeps lovingly bringing it back to us, until we see that situation or red pen for what it is. A lesson to be learned. A way to make us into the wonderful person God sees. It is His goal for us. We are on that path to becoming better people! We simply must change our hearts, and our attitudes, and be willing to see the red pen marks for what they are in our life.

God, please continue to use the red pen, until I achieve all you want me to be in Your life!


Andrea said...

GOD is definately still refining and revising in my life. GOD bless you for posting this much needed article.
I have poste a brief update at my blog about Colton and his family. Please keep praying. andrea

RCUBEs said...

We meet a lot of people in this lifetime but only a few leave a lasting prints in our hearts. When this co-worker told me that the noodles I gave tasted stale, I knew she was a "keeper!" It's not easy to be slapped with the truth but I guess that's how we know who are true friends are...Honesty does hurt but it helps for us to become better persons since we don't see ourselves like how they see us. God bless you sister Kat.

Warren Baldwin said...

Good ideas. Sometimes the person who wants to give us "brutal honesty" is really not interested in our personal transformation and growth! That's why it is hard to take sometimes. But, even if they intend to hurt us, their words can still be beneficial if we can take them in. I think it was Ben Franklin who said, "Love your enemies; they tell you their faults."

Billy Coffey said...

Funny, but as I'm sitting here reading your post, my wife has her red pen out grading class papers.

I hope to one day have your love of the red pen. Though it's valuable to me, I don't always enjoy it. But I'll have to rethink that now, thanks to you!

Jennifer said...

As painful as the "red pen" marks can be in our lives...if they are intended for the right reason, they can become some of the most valuable critism we were receive.

I can't honestly say that I handle them very well nor do I look forward to them. But, if I take the time to really think about, pray about what has been said...then, I can allow God to make the necessary changes in my life that He desires.

Awesome post, my friend!

Yolanda said...

I'm telling you that GOD, Himself, is speaking to me through you. Confirming what I had just asked of Him this morning in my early quiet time as I journaled.

Blessings to you!!