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Don't Let Blind Spots Blindside You
A guide on identifying, managing, and embracing your blind spots
Hey! 👋 I’m Archie! Welcome to my newsletter - The Rougher Drafts. I write about leadership, career advice, product, and technology. Among other things, I’m building The Breakout Space - a career accelerator for ambitious early/mid-career folks. Subscribe to receive new posts directly in your inbox and support my work.
Let’s talk about blind spots. They are both skill gaps/growth areas and your superpowers. Most people when they think about their blind spots, only tend to think of growth areas/skills that are missing. However, blind spots are also about being aware of your superpowers. Think of what are some things that you can do in your sleep, but others have a great deal of difficulty. Knowing your superpowers enables you to play to your strengths.
In my opinion, an effective approach to addressing and managing blind spots involves both recognizing and accepting them while actively working to broaden your knowledge base.
1/ Ask others to spot your blind spots
You can’t know about your own blind spots, otherwise, they wouldn’t be blind spots. However, people around you can see them, and, you just have to give them permission to share feedback and observations (both good and bad) about you.
Here are some ways I have activated the conversation,
“Hey! In this quarter, I’m trying to improve upon <include some specific areas> as well as identify my blind spots. So, if you observe something, please let me know as soon as you notice.”
And, when someone shares something and I find it fair, I usually tell them one of the following,
“Thank you for letting me know about X/Y/Z! I’m aware of that and actively working on it. I’d appreciate if you have advice on navigating this. Let’s keep a pulse on this and see how I trend 3 months from now.”
“Thank you for letting me know! This was a blind spot for me. I truly appreciate your bringing this to my attention. I’d rather have someone tell me there’s a spinach in my teeth before many more people have seen it. If you have suggestions/advice to tame this, please let me know. If you were in my place, what would you have done? I’ll keep an eye on this moving forward.”
2/ Share the good things that you observe in others
Due to our tendency to be highly self-critical, we tend to focus more on our weaknesses rather than our strengths. For that reason, we tend to notice others' strengths more than they do themselves, so it's important to acknowledge them when you see them. Although, it's usually necessary to have permission or established trust before providing growth feedback, offering words of genuine praise is free and can help build trust.
Identifying strengths is a significant lever for growth, especially for new team members or early career professionals. Authentic praise can reinforce a person's self-perception and motivate them to maintain their reputation. In some cases, I take it a step further and make a point of sharing their superpowers with other colleagues.
3/ Find comfort with blind spots & recognize that not knowing is a superpower in itself
Ignorance is bliss. When I was preparing to come to the US to pursue my master’s degree. I had no idea how hard living in America could be like; or how difficult and different university is here. If I had known all the hardships before I’m not sure if I would’ve taken the plunge. Similarly, I feel much more comfortable doing adventure sports or deep sea diving coz I have little information about deadly small and large sea creatures; or physics. Sometimes, it’s best not to know. It makes it easier to take that plunge.
Finally, recognize blind spots will always be there! Depending on the situation, you could embrace, identify and bridge the gap, or manage through delegation or leveraging other experts.
If you are based in the US, you can connect your local library card with the Libby app to read or listen to these books.
If you have questions or thoughts on the topic, you can tweet them to me or send me a DM on LinkedIn! I’ll tackle reader questions each week (keeping your name and company anonymous), and hey, it’s free! 😎
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