As any New Yorker over the age of 30 can tell you, former NYC mayor Ed Koch had an acerbic wit, and a way with words. His famous quip, “How am I doing?”, became synonymous with his persona and a hallmark of his legacy. As the top pol (my nod to NY tabloid journalism) in the country’s largest city, Koch presided over a large constituency willing to hold him accountable and provide him feedback.
Thing was, he didn’t wait around for them to do so. He asked the folks of the Big Apple.
It was his way of endearing himself to people and engendering a sense of accountability, as well as camaraderie. There’s a reason he’s remembered with fondness by many New Yorkers- even those who didn’t like him while he was mayor! Koch called the shots from City Hall during a difficult period of time in New York.
The crack epidemic was taking its toll and having a negative effect on the city, murders were on the rise and New York wasn’t exactly the safest place to walk around. Koch was far from perfect but he tirelessly fought to earn the people’s respect.
His simple, admittedly loaded question carried with it a humility and vulnerability that people found appealing. In the midst of difficult times, Koch never attempted to duck accountability nor did he disengage and hide from the public. He regularly toured the city to ask people his famous question and to try and improve affairs in his beloved hometown.
Ed Koch mattered.
How are you doing?
We all can benefit from this example by taking time throughout each day to ask ourselves, How am I doing? We can also ask people we trust to shoot straight with us and tell it like it is. Trusted friends and colleagues will provide us with their assessment (at any particular moment in time) of how we’re performing — so to speak — either in our personal or professional lives.
Where you, as the questioner, can benefit, is not so much in the compliment, but in the constructive criticism that you receive. We should always strive to be better servant leaders, friends, employees and students. A personal growth mindset begins with a desire to get better and a willingness to humbly take feedback.
Moments of Reflection
Everything in our life begins with a thought — an idea. Our thoughts fuel our desires, which fuel our belief in ourselves. Faith leads to hope. Once we start to mix in hard work, the thought contributions of others and persistence, we’re well on our way to improving our lot in life. Each day, I encourage you to reflect at different moments and ask yourself — and others — how you’re doing.
Take a few minutes to pause for quiet reflection, and consider prayer and meditation as ways to center your mind and calm any anxieties or fears that you have. This is very important for anyone dealing with stress, self-esteem or confidence issues. Solitude is important for the most effective, successful people who rely on its power each day to be more creative and clear in how they process their thoughts.
Incorporate the Time
The self-improving individual incorporates the need for feedback into their daily regimen. Feedback, written and verbal, is an observed account of how you handled yourself; a snapshot for a particular period of time. Concerned, objective feedback will give you the current situation and the tools you need to bridge the gap between where you are and where you need to be.
When you take the time to define your own success, you establish a set of objective criteria by which you can appraise your performance, and analyze the feedback given to you from your peers.
Leaders know the value of humility, self-betterment and feedback. They practice these things every day. Successful people mix desire with faith and back it with hard work and persistence. They follow through with self-evaluation, and they ask the opinions of others who are willing to help them. You’d be wise to employ these strategies in your own life.
So, how are you doing?
How am I doing?
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