Blind Spots: They’re Right Under My Nose

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Do you think you see everything? Even your own blind spots? They are called blind spots because something can be occurring right in front of you, and you will not see it or that you are responsible for creating it.

“Developing an awareness of life beyond your immediate surroundings brings a healthy restlessness which, if infused with peace and used well, can be a foundation for positive change in the world.”

Dadi Janki, Brahmakumaris Chief

Auto-Pilot: Operating In A Blind Spot

Chances are you started your business to provide a valuable service to the community and are seeking to do your work with excellence. And more often than not, in the stress of life, you may not see possibilities right in front of you that support your best efforts. Most people are not fully receiving information, resources and support because of our tendency to be on autopilot, operating in a blind spot.

Here’s an example of my own recent blind spot that inspired this article. I was driving between client meetings today, noticing my neck was out of adjustment and wondering if I could schedule a session with my chiropractor or massage therapist. About two hours later, as I was driving home, it dawned on me that my good friend Phyllis, visiting from Dallas and staying at my house, had once been a practicing chiropractor. I failed to recognize her, a resource right under my nose, because I had my own idea of what was possible, and blotted other options from my awareness.

Perceptual Blindness

Researchers call this “perceptual blindness;” when we are so focused on one thing we fail to see obvious information, circumstances and support right in front of us. Another factor could be what Brene Brown refers to as our often-unconscious need to be certain so we don’t feel vulnerable and risk being seen as imperfect. I consider we are all programmed and adopt our own private logic we believe is the truth.

Reflecting on this led me to think of other instances in which people fail to see opportunities when they show up in clear sight. For example I was coaching a client last week who asked for my help to overcome limiting beliefs blocking his financial success. Next, he told me about a motorcycle he wanted to buy. As I was leaving, I shared some promising new business prospects and said off-handedly, “Who knows! I may just end up buying you that motorcycle myself.” His reply was instantaneous and unconscious, “Oh no, I wouldn’t let you do that!” I looked at him and said, “Hmm…here is a possibility of financial gain showing up even if just in jest, and you reject it without hesitation or awareness because it appeared in the guise of an unexpected and unexplored possibility and a vulnerable one.

A few days before this, at a workshop I delivered an exercise I have facilitated over a hundred times, and yet when a participant offered a solution no one else has ever offered (including me), I realized the option had been viable and available all along. What causes us to otherwise miss the many possibilities available to us that would enhance our business and what can we do to help ourselves to open to, see and leverage what’s right under our noses?

Practical Tips

  1. Assume you are (sometimes, ok often, ok almost always) operating from a blind spot. Drop certainty; instead invite in vulnerability, and appreciate there is much you don’t know.
  2. Foster consistent curiosity. Too often, we accept circumstances at face value without diving deeper where the greater adventures and opportunities are to be found.
  3. Build your intellectual endurance. As you encounter challenges, don’t give up after only a few tries or within the first 10 minutes. Build a commitment to finding numerous options. We have an instant gratification culture but that’s not where the joy of accomplishment is often experienced.
  4. Laugh at yourself. Enjoy the fact that you are a limited human being and you are no less worthy for it; don’t take yourself or anything too seriously.
  5. Nurture emotional and social intelligence. Adopt practices like pausing and breathing in a manner that helps you recognize creative options you would otherwise miss.

This article is published in the column The Extraordinary Workplace in the St. Louis Small Business Monthly, August 2016

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