Our strengths may actually create “blind spots” that can work against us. These blind spots are behaviours, beliefs and practices that we ourselves can’t see, and can therefore be a risk to the things we want to achieve. Although blind-spots are the flip-side of strengths, I want to be clear they are not ‘weaknesses.’
For example, a colleague – let’s call him Raoul – has wonderful problem-solving skills. He is creative, resourceful, outspoken and will always be the first to offer advice and suggest a solution. Every boss’ dream employee right? Well, Raoul hears from one of his team members that others find him rude and a bit of a ‘know-it-all.’ How can that be, when his intentions were only to help and to share his knowledge? He learns that his eagerness to answer questions, even those questions not directed to him, is the root cause for his hurtful, instead of helpful image. Raoul starts to correct this discrepancy by holding back his replies and letting others answer questions first (especially when a question was specifically directed to someone else).
We can learn a lot from Raoul’s experience that help to keep our own blind spots in check.
- Find a trusted advisor – like a car’s side view and rear view mirrors, getting honest feedback from someone close to you can let you see what’s not directly in front of you. This can be your friend, partner, mentor, or team mate. For Raoul, this person shared important information that was obvious to everyone but himself.
- Become more self-aware – even though no level of self-awareness can allow you to see your blind spots, self-awareness or understanding yourself is key to transforming feedback about your blind spots into productive actions. Receiving feedback is difficult, and if Raoul simply rejected the insights his teammate shared, he may have continued sabotaging his own efforts. However, he knew himself well enough and determined what actions he was willing to take to help himself.
- Get a coach – the process of turning insights about your blind spots into actions or behaviours that support the development of your strengths can be complex. The role of your coach is to help you through that process, and to develop a plan with you that is realistic and repeatable. Having a support network around you is important. Having someone who is trained to help you gain a new perspective is priceless.
Remember, blind spots originate from strengths. Rather than let the risk of blind spots hinder our self-development, we could and should uncover these blind spots to help us build these strengths.
What is your view of blind spots? What can you suggest for uncovering and managing blind spots? Please add your comments below.
Check out more blog posts in this series: Coach’s Corner.