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Perspective: Blind Spots and Myopic Tendencies

Are you only seeing part of the picture?

Common in my coaching business is the topic of blind spots and its close cousin myopic tendencies. What's the problem? Your view or approach become distorted because you focus on certain areas while neglecting the existence or importance of others. The results of your efforts can then be incomplete. When working with others the outcome may be a neglect to include others and differing perspectives. In the long run, you may be labeled as a bit of a one trick pony - always coming back to the same set of solutions or as a person who only sees one perspective.

Redwood Cathedral outside of Santa Cruz, CA with blindspots.

Complicating things, blind spots can often be an overuse or misapplication of our strongest talents, so interpreting correct use or misuse can be tricky. Suppose your talent is planning. You see a world where, if only there were a plan things would go so much smoother. For some impacted by your talent, over application of your gift of planning will crush creativity. This overuse creates the blindspot where you didn't know creativity is going untapped.

So what can be done? Lots!

First, identify the blind spot or detrimental focus areas. Here, there are two clear approaches:

  • Option A: Explore on your own.

    • Take your default position and ask what are five, or more alternative possibilities. Examine the alternatives - is there a theme or grouping that might point to a blind spot. The challenge with this approach... a true blind spot will be hard to reveal and the focus areas will feel so natural they may be hard to question. Still, the experiment may reveal a good starting point and you can do it on your own time.

    • If you still wish to explore on your own, start with your strengths and examine the consequence of overuse of any particular talent. Challenge yourself to find a different approach and you may have found a blindspot.

  • Option B: Enlist others to tell you.

    • If you have a trusted core you know will be honest with you, bypass the 360 and ask them directly - "What are my blind spots?" and "Am I overly focused on certain topics?" Ask a variety of people, not just your fans, for a better shot at a well rounded answer.

    • Others may not want to tell you directly. If this is the case consider working with a coach or consultant to perform a 360 on your behalf. A custom engagement can target blind spots and an interview format can get underneath the surface level answers that will come from questionnaires.

Second, come up with a plan.

  • Pick an opportunity where you like to focus your energy. You may hear some feedback about blindspots that is interesting but not particularly relevant to your role. So be selective in the blindspot you choose to work on. It should matter to you, and the realization of some goal you hold, while also being narrow enough to be able to gauge change. One blindspot might be plenty.

  • Once selected, create a plan that you can implement. The plan should at minimum address two elements - how you will increase awareness and demonstrating some change outward behaviors. What will I notice? What will others notice (because I'll be interacting differently)?

  • Plan hygiene will call for the usual factors. What is the timeline? How will I track progress and at what interval? Who can I engage to help keep me accountable? How will I reward my progress?

  • Write all of this down. Keeping it in your head is not enough. Writing it will add gravity to your plan. Sharing it will make it even stickier.

Third, test for signs of progress. This will require some sharing and vulnerability on your part. Tell someone who has the opportunity to observe your behaviors about your plan. Set a date to check in with them and invite them to send you feedback at any point on the topic. This third party verification is very important, but if you cannot obtain it, then journal to capture your progress.

How can coaching help? Blindspot identification and management is a great area to consider partnering with a coach. Through the use of strategic questioning, customized 360 administration or assessment debriefs, the coach can partner with you to identify blindspots and if you choose, act as your accountability partner though your growth.

Special note for remote workers: Blindspot identification and management will be doubly hard for many remote workers. The environmental feedback you had the benefit of while in an office is now missing, so understanding your blindspots and breaking out of your myopic tendencies will take a heightened level of consciousness. Don't try to go at this alone. Partner with a coach or a trusted colleague to work through this process.

All the best, Audrey

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