“The greatest deception that men suffer is from their own opinions” – Leonardo Da Vinci
On our path to success, we are likely to face a lot of challenges thrown at us by the outer world. But it isn’t just the outer world that tries to halt our journey, sometimes we might also hold ourselves back without being aware that we are doing so.
Most often we think that we are lot more aware about our self than we actually are. One important thing that stands in the way of our self – awareness is our blind spots. Blind spots are things about ourselves that are clearly seen by others but unknown to us because we are stuck inside our own thoughts and beliefs. For example, At work, Your boss believes that you have the skills to lead an important project and hands it over to you. However, instead of taking up that opportunity you express your concern and fear that you may not be equipped to handle it and do not take it up. You self-sabotage. Another example would be, while giving presentations your clarity of speech might not be good and your team would point this out to you but you won’t accept it and fully register it as truth because in your head you think your speech has high clarity.
Sometimes people turn out to be terrible at judging their own intelligence and creativity, because they want to think of themselves as smart and creative, and tend to be overconfident. It is really important to be aware of our blind spots because it’s essential for our personal growth. Identifying our blind spots and understanding them deepens our self – awareness. Blind spots aren’t necessarily negative traits or weakness; it’s just that when you are oblivious of something, you don’t know there are certain areas in you that require improvement and it’s limiting you from reaching your full potential. When you uncover your blind spots and actively work on them, you become more conscious of your strengths and areas for development and the boundaries within which you are operating within.
Let’s look about the steps to gain clarity around our blind spots, which will open the door for growth, learning, and performance improvement.
- Accept Feedbacks and opinions from others: Always keep these words of Adam Grant in mind “Any time a trait is easy for other people to see or hard for us to admit, we can’t trust our own judgment of it”. Whenever your friends or colleagues give you a feedback, do not ignore it. People who are around us are better judges of our personality so always be open to get feedbacks.
Let’s try asking blind spot feedback from one person a day for a week at least. Just ask them “Is there anything about me that I don’t seem to see but is obvious to you?” You’ll probably just want to ask only people whom you are close with but don’t stop there, ask people with whom you are not so close also because they are the best mirrors we can find.
- Try to observe yourself from an outside view: If you are somebody who gives presentations often try videotaping or audio taping your speech to review your behavior from the outside view. This way you’ll be more aware of the areas that you have to improve and you’ll also be more willing to correct it. I feel this is something that we should all be in the habit of doing because this is one thing that will help us understand what our colleagues / mentors / others have been telling us to improve.
- Keep your critics close and flatterers far: We always think that we need mentors and colleagues, who encourage us, motivate us, cheerlead us and support us even when we get criticized to advance in our career. Even at workplace we tend to lean on with such kind of people. Although, this support network is kind of important at a workplace, we also need a challenge network, people who tell you you’re not there yet, Who push you because they really care about helping you get better.
As humans we are more drawn to social praise and are more likely to fall victim to flattery but it’s wise to keep people who criticize you and challenge you around. If somebody gives you a harsh feedback don’t push them away and don’t ignore their feedback, it will destroy your opportunity to learn. We all have to embrace that challenge network to reach our potential.
Identifying blind spots and resolving them is an exercise that needs humility as we have to put our ego aside, and don the mantle of a true learner who is seeking the ‘truth’ and just like how growth is a lifelong journey, the process of identifying blind spots never ends. With every blind spot that we find and confront, there is always a next blind spot to uncover but what’s more important is to work on improving every second, every moment, as we move forward in our life’s journey.