Blind spots. Ever since I came across this term, I have been intrigued. Most words have just one or perhaps two meanings. This one has three, at least.
There is a vehicular blind spot, visual (or literal) blind spot, or psychological (or metaphorical) blind spot.
The one we want to focus on here is the psychological (or metaphorical) blind spot, which is defined as “a prejudice, or area of ignorance, that one has but is often unaware of”, or “a tendency to ignore something especially because it is difficult or unpleasant.”
Some people see blind spots as weaknesses. However, blind spots, if managed properly, can be the key to our success!
Because blind spots are often a result of us being unaware or because we find doing something unpleasant, it is well within our control to manage them. They are predictable in the way they show up in our lives – typically either when we are under stress or when we overuse our strengths.
When we are under stress, we often rely on what comes most naturally to us, i.e. we utilise our preferences in terms of how we think and behave. Usually, these are seen as our strengths. However, we could sometimes overuse our strengths, and they end up being too much of a good thing.
Hence, a strategy to avoid or minimise blind spots is to consciously utilise the thinking and behavioural styles we don’t normally use.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
Imagine you are a sales person with a natural preference to speak rather than listen, and to relate to people rather than to relate with data or tasks. One day, you find yourself with a lot of follow-ups to do, paperwork to complete, analyses to perform and you will need to silence your mind, knuckle down and get all these things done. You absolutely hate it! But, suppose you reframe your predicament and motivate yourself to close the loop on these things, you would probably end up closing quite a few of those deals on the table.
If left unchecked or if it becomes a crutch or excuse for not doing certain things, these blind spots often become unhealthy patterns that affect the way we do things and our relationships.
When speaking to people who have completed a project or finished a difficult task, the common comments I hear often are, “I really had to struggle through calling all those people but once I did that, it was the turning point,” or “I had to force myself to sit down and plan the project timeline. It was really draining, but it had to be done and it was the blueprint for the success of the project.”
The common thread that runs through these comments is that when we do something outside of our preference or comfort zone, we find that we are that much closer to being successful. And why not? If these areas are the barriers we have to do something more holistically or more completely, then doesn’t it make sense that when these barriers are removed, so will our barriers to success?
The bottom line is this: are we aware of our blind spots and how our strengths can become blind spots? By putting aside what we enjoy doing naturally, we can reframe and motivate ourselves to think and behave in ways that are non-preferences, thereby achieving success in our lives.
“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”
― Lao Tzu