Did you know we all have a blind spot? In fact, we have two of them. The first is physical and the second mental.
Let’s start with the physical blind spot.
Physical Blind Spot
There’s a point at the back of our eye where the optic nerve connects with the retina. This area is absent of nerve fibres and creates a physical blind spot. Here’s a quick demonstration …
Instructions: “Close one eye and focus the other on the appropriate letter (R for right or L for left). Place your eye a distance from the screen approximately equal to three times the distance between the R and the L. Move your eye towards or away from the screen until you notice the other letter disappear. For example, close your right eye, look at the “L” with your left eye, and the “R” will disappear.” Source: Wikipedia – Blind Spot
Mental Blind Spot
We also have mental blind spots.
Mental blind spots are areas where we refuse to see the reality of a situation – usually due to a lack of awareness or cognitive bias.
These mental blind spots can severely limit our ability to be effective leaders to our families, communities, and workplaces.
To notice our blind spots requires us to shift perspective and gather more information.
Just like you need to move your body to see your physical blind spot, you need to shift your mind to notice your mental blind spots.
What’s Your Blind Spot?
Let’s explore three common blind spots where we all struggle.
While we can usually relate to the experience of each blind spot, there is often one that we struggle with the most.
I call this the primary blind spot.
As a complying type, you form your identity around your relationships.
You view yourself as good, worthwhile, and safe because you are a kind, caring, and supportive person.
A relationship based identity says: “I am OK, worthwhile, and secure if you like me and accept me, and see me as supportive.”
You find yourself seeking attention and struggle with issues associated with self-image and shame.
As a leader, your complying style will have others viewing you as conservative and passive due to your need to please others. You may also find that you tend to give up too much power in exchange for being accepted.
At your worst, you can be prideful, image-driven, impatient, competitive, moody, self-absorbed, and passive-aggressive.
At your best, you can be caring, helpful, supportive, enthusiastic, practical, creative and compassionate.
Your action plan for growth is to practice mindfulness to build awareness of your reactive tendencies, take ownership of your personal goals, and leverage your relationship strengths through mentoring, interpersonal skills, collaboration, and teamwork.
As a controlling type, you form your identity around your ability to get results.
You view yourself as successful, courageous and fearless because you can overcome resistance and control your environment.
A results-based identity says: “I am confident and strong when I’m in control of my environment. I am proud of my independence.”
You find yourself striving to push yourself and struggle with issues associated with ego and anger when things don’t go your way.
As a leader, your controlling style will have others viewing you as driven, ambitious, and aggressive due to your nature to use power to create what you want at the expense of people.
While this style can be effective at achieving individual results, a controlling type can stifle team collaboration, innovation, and creativity.
At your worst, you can be aggressive, angry, dominating, stubborn, resentful, and rigid.
At your best, you can be courageous, generous, supportive, honest, dependable and practical.
Your action plan for growth is to practice mindfulness to build awareness of your reactive tendencies, learn to be comfortable with letting go of control, and leverage your achievement strengths through purpose, focus, decisiveness, and high performance.
As a protecting type, you have discovered that being smart has it’s advantages and have formed your identity around your intellect.
You view yourself as valuable, contributing, and worthwhile because of your native brilliance.
An intellectually based identity says: “I am safe and secure when I know my stuff. I depend on my ability to be rational and think strategically to survive.”
You find yourself pushing to learn more and struggle with issues associated with insecurity and anxiety.
As a leader, your protecting style will have others viewing you as arrogant, cynical, and superior due to your protective nature to withdrawal and maintain emotional distance.
At your worst, you can be detached, withholding, isolated, anxious, pessimistic, hyper-vigilant, self-absorbed, and unrealistic.
At your best, you can be thoughtful, dependable, respectful, calm, optimistic, witty, playful and adventurous.
Your action plan for growth is to practice mindfulness to build awareness of your reactive tendencies, manage your anxiety, and leverage your intellectual strengths to be calm under pressure, create strategy, and optimize systems in service of the people around you.
3 Steps To Change
An interesting note … your reactive style might be different depending on the situation. At work, you might be a protecting type while at home, you could be a controlling type.
Regardless of your reactive style, the next steps are the same …
Step 1: Start Building Awareness
Your first step is to build awareness of your reactive behaviours. Start by noticing what situations bring out your best and what triggers your worst.
Step 2: Notice Your Blind Spot
Each reactive style has a blind spot. See if you can discover how this is showing up for you.
Step 3: Leverage Your Strengths
There’s a positive aspect to every style. Build upon these strengths while addressing the root cause.
To get unstuck, you will need to overcome your reactive nature.
It will take courage for you to let go of your old ways of thinking and make the appropriate changes.
In just about every case, it will require you to open up in some way and be vulnerable.
That’s the catch; you will need to lean into your reactive nature – to feel the shame, anger, or anxiety – the exact thing this is keeping your stuck – to overcome it.
If you’ve been struggling in your life, this just might be what you need to take you to the next level.
What's Your Blind Spot?
Discover your reactive leadership style by answering a few questions. Each assessment comes with an action plan to help you break through to the next level.