Do your colleagues do things that really drive you crazy? When the pressure is on, do you in turn do things that drive them mad as well? Well, perhaps you are both in your blind spots and neither of you can see the forest for the trees.
Stress can erode team collaboration, trust and connection
Last week I had the privilege of conducting a workshop with a high performing team that has been under a great deal of stress lately. Like most organizations, there’s more work to do than resources to do it; and everyone is stretched too thin. Add to this challenge, this team is composed of professionals with very high standards and strong drive. Trust and collaboration have started to erode on this team as the stress has been mounting higher and higher. They requested my help to see their blind spots.
What is a blind spot?
A blind spot is an unrecognized habit that comes out in your behavior when you are under stress. It can disturb others and disrupt workplace harmony. Blind spots are things we think and do unconsciously that can negatively influence how other people feel about us. At worst, your blind spots are tragic flaws that can derail your career. At best, blind spots are opportunities for greater self-awareness and personal development.
Every personal weakness when developed has the potential of becoming a personal strength. Our environment influences whether we see a personal characteristic as a strength or weakness.
We owe it to ourselves and to our colleagues to know our blind spots and learn to prevent them so that we can all stay in strength.
Why I am motivated to see my blind spots
Over the years, I have paid the price for not knowing my own blind spots. They have cost me many opportunities in my professional career. In fact, I lost at least one high level job as a result of my blind spots. I tell the story of “stepping on my own land mine.” That land mine was my blind spot in action.
My blind spots have also robbed me of daily peace and harmony in my personal life. Sometimes I wonder if my cancer was in part a result from the angst and frustration created from my blind spots. I may never know the answer to that mystery, but I am relieved to be more consciously aware of my blind spots, including the triggers and dynamics that set them off. Life has become much more clear ever since.
I became intrigued with the blind spots issue after having a three-way networking lunch with Marge Piccini and Claudia Shelton, creator of the Blind Spot Profile system and author of the book, Blind Spots: Achieve Success by Seeing What You Can’t See. As I was interested in meeting Claudia, Marge was kind enough to facilitate the introduction and make it easier for both of us by inviting us to lunch. (I really am a fan of three-way networking lunches as a way of meeting important people!)
After having lunch with Claudia and reading her book, I decided that I wanted to invest my time and money in becoming certified as a Blind Spots Executive Coach. Part of my training including taking the online assessment to figure out my own blind spots. Yes, even executive coaches have blind spots.
Can you guess what my blind spots are?
My Blind Spot Profile suggests that I am an “Optimistic Image-Oriented Producer” and an “Energetic New-Direction Risk Taker.” Well, that sounds pretty great, but what does it mean? Here’s an excerpt from my personal Blind Spot Profile report:
Optimistic Image-Oriented Producers
- Quick Thinking Style: reads feeling first; Quick Feeling Style: extroverted
- Greatest Personal Strength: high-energy multitasker, produces many projects valued by others.
- Potential Blind Spots: Constant multitasking can lead to disorganization and indecision. When pressured can become distant and alienate others.
Energetic New-Direction Risk Taskers
- Quick Thinking Style: reads ideas first; Quick Feeling Style: extroverted
- Greatest Personal Strength: Constantly initiating new ideas. Enthusiasm creates energy and excitement.
- Potential Blind Spots: Lack of self-disciplined follow-through on ideas can lead to failure. When feeling boxed-in by structure, can become irritable, blaming, and lose memory for recent events and decisions.
This all makes perfect sense to me. I am a great starter, but have trouble finishing big projects. That’s the energetic new-direction risk taker in me. I need a strong accountability partner and people with systems thinking to counterbalance my innovative spirit, so that things actually get done.
I am acutely aware of how I negatively respond when people don’t appreciate me or the things I do for them. I become reactive when others are overly critical of me. I take it very personally. That’s the optimistic image-oriented producer in me. I am a big proponent of expressing appreciation, acknowledging people and complimenting others. Perhaps I even go overboard here. Perhaps it’s because that’s what I need. It’s my strength and my blind spot.
- Click here to learn more about the Blind Spot executive coaching program and access the Blind Spot Profile Matrix (shown at right)
The antidote for blind spots
Author Claudia Shelton’s book introduces a concept called Clear Sight Strategies as the solution to steering clear of your blind spots and staying in your strength. She contends that Clear Sight Strategy will give you clear focus and execution toward what you want to accomplish. These strategies allow for clear intention and direct conversation with your colleagues. They move you towards more effective collaboration and alignment with team and organizational goals and values. Ultimately Clear Sight Strategies help you realize your full potential in your work and in your life.
Everyone will have a different set of Clear Sight Strategies to address their own needs and issues. However, most everyone can benefit from a strategy that Claudia calls shift to neutral.
“A shift to neutral can involve a long period of contemplation where we get perspective on our feelings, values, career, and life. More frequently it involves a moment of breaking focus from what we are doing to process our immediate thoughts and emotional information. Sounds simple, right? For many people, this one minute break seems impossible to fit into their busyness.” – Claudia Shelton, author of Blind Spots: Achieve Success by Seeing What You Can’t See (page 73)
Your Networking Goal for the Week
Take a few minutes this week to examine your own blind spots. Ask others who know you very well for their input. Listen to their feedback non-judgmentally. We all have blind spots; they are just your strengths being misused at times of stress. Figure how you can shift to neutral when you feel yourself beginning to react to stressful situations. Perhaps a 3 minute adult “time out” is all you will need to regain clear sight on the situation.
If you have an interview this week and they ask you that dreaded question “What is your biggest weakness,” don’t give them that tired old response of repositioning it as a hidden strength. Instead, call it what it is, your blind spot. Let them know that you are consciously aware of it and have a clear sight strategy for steering clear of it and staying in strength. If you see them taking notes on your answers, they are probably making a “Note to Self: I need to see my own blind spots!”