Are you hungry enough?

So I’m at home on a Saturday night, and I’m watching America’s Next Top Model, one of my guilty pleasures and trashy TV shows that I sometimes tune into (it’s that, Project Runway, and Suits that make me curl up with a bowl of popcorn after a long day).

While you can hold your comments about my show preferences, I noticed something about people in competition — and in life — that’s critically important.

Three models are competing to book a show. They’ve got their fierce looks on, they have to show their chops, demonstrate what they’ve learned, and show their skill in posing and/or walking. Two of them get booked — and one of them doesn’t.

Sometimes, after a competition, the TV cuts to a scene of the competitor in a corner, crying. “I don’t know what I did wrong,” they wail, teary-eyed. “I just don’t get it! I thought I was totally going to get this job!”

In two cases, however, I watched as one of the contestants got cut — and she walked up to the judge and asked,

How can I be better?

The judge gave a few remarks about confidence, etc, and the model continued to drill him:

“I’d really love your feedback because I want to get this right. I know it’s fiercely competitive, and I’m interested in upping my game.”

Both times, the contestants that took the exact moment where they got feedback that told them they weren’t as good as their peers, taking that opportunity to learn, grow, and build — the contestants transformed the most week over week.

Granted, this is ANTM. I’m blushing just writing about this.

But I see this happen all the time in real life, too.

My friends who are building programs on the internet, making projects, delivering results, starting companies — the most successful people I know are insanely curious about making things better. They take their project, put it in the world, and ask for feedback.

They know that life is a continuous game of learning, one that started when we were born. As toddlers, we might fall a hundred times while learning to walk, but very few of us sat pouting in a corner after we fell down a couple of times. We wanted to walk.

Not all feedback is the same, however.

Great feedback you can use. Great feedback is specific, clear, and something that you can work on. Negative comments for the sake of being mean should be ignored. (That’s called a troll). When someone has something to say that’s constructive, file it away. Store it — because it’s valuable. We wanted to explore, to move.

The hunger to learn is innate.

When life gets a little rough, we can cry. (I do that sometimes. And it often involves trashy TV and a bowl of popcorn in my bed).

And we can also ask,

How can I be better?

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