This is an excerpt from Finding Mastery #085 with Texas Men’s Basketball Head Coach Shaka Smart in which he explains why being open to feedback is imperative for growth.


Michael Gervais: Is there one thing that you do to accelerate that growth that you could point to, a practice that you love?

Shaka Smart: We do a lot but I would say the most important component of accelerating growth is changing someone’s relationship with feedback.

Michael Gervais: Oh god that’s good, that’s really good. Okay because without feedback it’s near impossible to know if you get better and like this is why I was so attracted early on in my life to Mother Nature. The feedback was like, it was accurate. If you hesitate you got problems right and so that’s like back country stuff, but then when a human gives feedback to another human there’s all these biases that we’ve got to cut through.

Shaka Smart: Yes.

Michael Gervais: And we’re trying to interpret like to see does he have my back or is he just looking out for himself, is he in a bad mood, is he in a good mood, like is this accurate, does he know what he’s talking about, should I listen, should I not listen, I never heard this before and look like I’m pretty damn good, like this all these biases and filters to get through so I love this, how do you do this?

Shaka Smart:  Well to your point that’s where it relates very, very strongly to the relationship part of it.

Michael Gervais: There you go.

Shaka Smart:  But yeah the key is trying to create an understanding on the part of whether it’s an athlete or coach or anyone that you’re working with that it is going to be impossible for you to become, fill in the blank, the best version of yourself without a very, very healthy and close relationship with feedback. Now it’s tough because again with the segment of guys that we’re dealing with for the first eighteen or so years in their life as it relates to basketball, I’m not talking about the family structure but basketball, they’ve largely been given only positive feedback and here’s one of the things I think is a real challenge that we have to overcome in team sports in today’s era, is getting people to understand there’s a real difference between objective feedback, constructive feedback and negativity. Sometimes those things are confused for being one in the same and let’s be honest, most people when they get hit with a certain level of negativity they turn off and so getting them to understand, wait a minute, this feedback is far from negative, in fact this is actually something that you already have inside of you. You just have to bring it out.


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Men's Basketball Head Coach at

Shaka Smart is an American men's college basketball coach and former player. He currently is the head coach at the University of Texas. The leader of a Virginia Commonwealth University program that advanced to the 2011 Final Four and posted at least 26 wins in each of his six seasons at the school, Smart became the 24th head basketball coach at Texas on April 3, 2015.