You have blind spots. Just like the cars we drive, you have them. Some of us have HUGE blind spots. Some of us have moderate sized blind spots. And then some are lucky enough to have very small ones. But we all have them.
Over the years, my blind spots have kept me from achieving. At times they have gotten me in trouble.
How do blind spots cause you problems? The list of blind spot problems include:
- Blind Spots keep us from seeing things about ourselves that we need to see. Author Dr. James Gills calls this Spiritual Cataracts, which cause an inability to see ourselves as others see us.
- Blind spots prevent us from considering other, usually contrasting points of view. Dr. Madeleine Van Hecke, author of Blind Spots devotes a chapter to this in her book.
- Blind Spots keep us from thinking “out of the box” when they cause biases that get in the way of free and creative thinking.
- Blind Spots often put us in the position where we fail to see the big picture when we get too close to a particular point (can’t see the forest for the trees)
- Blind Spots sometimes lead you to reach a conclusion without examining all of the possible alternatives. Your eventual decision ends up somewhat less than optimal.
Can you prevent (or at a minimum reduce) blind spots? I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I didn’t think so! What has worked for me is a handful of things that I work hard to put into practice constantly. These include:
- Frequent introspectives (i.e. person in the mirror) exercises. Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step Program defines this as Step 4, “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”. I do this daily. It requires practice, discipline, and objectivity about yourself.
- Engaging trusted friends or mentors to evaluate your behavior, communication, interaction, or other dimensions of your character. This is sometimes referred to as a 360 degree evaluation. It takes a thick skin.
- Taking additional time to think through alternatives when I am thinking about and trying to solve problems or issues and not short cutting the process. This technique allows me to consider more alternatives.
- Thinking all the way through to potential consequences of my actions. Doing this also makes it easier to consider options I would not have taken the time to look at.
- Putting aside my pride and reflecting on the real value of humility . This seems to loosen me up and allows me to see things more clearly.
I have met a very few number of people (maybe three or so?) in my life that I do not believe had any blind spots. In other words, they were so introspective, so in tune with themselves and how they interacted with people and with the general world around them, that they could see everything about themselves that anyone else saw about them. This takes humility, desire, willingness and practice. The rest of us mere mortals aren’t that lucky.
What about you? Can you recognize your own blind spots? What techniques have you found effective in addressing your blind spots? Do you look at the person in the mirror?