Have you ever met anybody that just can’t seem to see how they are hurting themselves and causing their own problems? They have blind spots. And the truth is, we all have them.
I’ve had some tough conversations recently with people about their blind spots. I am intrinsically motivated (being UCD) to point them out. I do this instinctively because I simply want people to fix their problems. I have learnt however that timing and delivery is everything. It is not what I say, it is how and when I say it. Sometimes it is simply better to be harmless and not helpful. Trust me that I have learned this the hard way. While at the same time, I would rather take a risk and point something out that could really hurt someone, and everybody around them, to have peace with myself. I’ve learned this the hard way as well watching lives and families implode when I could have at least tried to intervene. This has cost me dearly, but I wouldn’t trade the peace in my heart.
If you are going to achieve professional success and personal fulfillment, you will need to deal with blind spots in your character. If you don’t, you will be stunted in all forms of growth–spirit, mind and body.
Why We Develop Blind Spots
If you had a a piece of food hanging off your lip that you didn’t realize, would you want others to point it out? I would think yes. Having food on your lip is not the blind spot. The fact you can’t see it, is literally the issue. And the people around you, to prevent you from further embarrassment, can lovingly point it out and with their help, you are no longer blind to the problem.
That’s how it is supposed to work when it comes to the people around you having your best interests at heart. But what if the person pointing it out made a comment such as, “You are such a slob, look at the food hanging from your mouth. Why do I always have to clean you up?” How would that make you feel? You have just gone from having food in your mouth to being attacked with shame.
Shame is why we develop blind spots. We are scared that our problems make us bad people. And when people point out the problems, we feel like they are saying we are bad–that we are defined by our problems. This is a natural response when we experience emotional wounding and even trauma from other people with their own wounding and trauma.
The biggest sign that you have a blind spot of character is getting defensive about feedback. It’s also a sign you might not just be blind, but blind by choice, which is far worse. Just reflect on how you react when you get feedback about your character. You’ll know.
What to Do About Blind Spots
We all need people to point out blind spots in our character. They need to be people you can trust and be vulnerable with. They must love you and be credible in their own character. And you must give them permission to love you that way. If you get defensive with them, you will sabotage the relationship. Check your ego at the door. Please.
I have had several people throughout the years sit me down and really point out some big issues in my character. They didn’t come to me to hurt me. They loved me and were willing to risk the friendship because they did not want me to continue hurting myself. I didn’t always listen upfront. Sometimes, I was downright offended and hurt. But I never pushed them away. I stayed open to let their feedback process and be validated.
Sure enough, these people were right. They had the evidence and track record of credibility. Their integrity was intact when it came to the issue they were pointing out. They were not perfect by any means. But when it came to my blind spots, they had a vantage point I could not ignore.
Nobody points out more blind spots for me than my wife Tae-Young. After being married 14 years, she knows me pretty darn well. And I am grateful for it. But rest assured, she had to be very patient with me because sometimes (OK most of the time), getting feedback from the person you love the most, hurts the most. This brings me to my next point.
Let Results Point Out Your Blind Spots
My wife does not always have to sit me down to tell me about a blind spot. More often than not, her reaction to my decisions and behavior is enough. I have also learned this the hard way. When she is mad, it is easy for me to blame her character for being mad–to try and turn the tables which I have sadly done a lot. It is much harder, yet much more rewarding, to ask myself how I have contributed to the problem. Again, more often than not, her getting upset is like a warning light going off on a dashboard. When the alarm goes off, it says I am in danger and need to adjust.
This works the same with how friends and co-workers react to you. Yes, their reactions may show their own character blind spots. But that’s not the point. Getting defensive and turning it on them just makes you blinder.
Let’s say you were an apple farmer that had a bad harvest one year. Your entire crop was full of bad apples and your customers rejected them. What would you do? Would you yell at your customers and tell them they don’t know what they are talking about? Would you blame the trees? What should you do? How long will you stay in business with this approach?
Just like a tree, the fruit–your results–will show you your blind spots. It is up to you to work on your character starting with the roots of the tree. Next is how you are caring for it. What nutrients are you providing? Is the environment right? You have control over all of this. You are right, the weather is out of your control. Life throws you a curve ball now and then. But how you respond is within your total power to change.
The most successful and fulfilled people I know combine both. They have people that are given total freedom to point out character issues. And they are also very humble about examining the results in their lives for what they are. And just like a good tree produces good fruit, they continue to grow in their purpose, passions and potential.
In part two of this series, I will show you how MDNA can be used to understand potential blind spots in character so you won’t be stunted. Make sure you subscribe and if you haven’t, go take an MDNA assessment.