What do I mean by a blind spot? Quite simply, something that’s right there, in front of or around us, that we can’t see. But others can, usually quite easily.
Some examples from the business world. Ford and the Pinto; Enron and falsifying financial results; subprime mortgage lenders who were selling the equivalent of Florida swamp land. All were mired in ethical disasters because of blind spots.
Three individual examples. An executive who takes on a crushing workload even when he does not have to, to the detriment of family and health – because he does not feel he can let the “team” down. Another executive who stays over a decade longer than he should have in a partnership, because of his discomfort with confrontation. And a third executive who would not delegate and was personally very disorganized, yet would not get an assistant for years.
My own blind spot. For years, I not only took on difficult work assignments, problems that others said could “never” be solved but I added to this pressure by taking on increasingly senior volunteer roles. And when new seemingly intractable issues came up, guess whose hand went up first? Yes, mine.
This led to major physical health toll (20 years of terrible back pain, lots of weight gain, three hospitalizations for stomach issues that were stress related, and major impact on my family and spirituality).
It turns out I had multiple blind spots. Fear of failure; not being good enough (hence “impossible” challenges solved quicker than anyone else was my way of coping); and the complete inability to see that a more balanced life would actually make me happier and allow me to contribute more meaningfully to the world.
If I had asked for external help, it would have been easy for someone or a team to suggest that:
- I could see failure as feedback, and failing quick and fast actually can be very helpful;
- I was more than good enough, and was paying a heavy toll because of my self-imposed crushing workload;
- That running life as a series of sprints, not a marathon, was the better way to deal with life’s many opportunities
Recognizing these three blind spots took me over a decade. It has led to greatly improved health, relationships and spiritual practice, allowing me to make better decisions, get better results and be a better leader, with more impact!
What are your blind spots costing you, and who is helping you see your blind spots?
I suggest forming a small peer group of people you trust, and having frank discussions on the group’s challenges on a set schedule, monthly or quarterly. I’ve been doing so quarterly with a group over the last few years, and more recently through one on one coaching – and the results have been astonishingly helpful.
And for EVERY challenge you face, start thinking about your blind spot. You won’t see it yourself (or it would not be a blind spot!), but if you are brave enough to reach out, someone else can easily help you see your blind spots. All it takes is a bit of courage to step up – for a huge payoff in your life quality and achievement.
Step up, today. Seek feedback to help you eliminate your blind spots!