Traveling down the highway the other day, we saw many people texting or talking on their phone as they drove. Their speed was erratic, and they were constantly swerving from one lane to another. I felt nervous and in danger anywhere close to them, I and encouraged my husband to put some distance between us as quickly as possible.
It came to my mind that this dangerous behavior is very obvious to others, although the texting-driver may mistakenly think they have everything under control. From behind, we watch the unintentional lane changes and make adjustments for their inconsistent speed. When we pass along the right – because they are usually blocking the passing lane – we have never been wrong in our initial hypothesis as to the cause of their erratic driving. They are often so intent on their communication that they do not look up or even notice as we pass by.
Blind Spots = obvious to everyone except me
I can have blind spots in many areas of my life. I am often so busy with my own tasks and concerns that I am completely unaware of how my attitudes and behavior are affecting others. I hate to think of how often a family member has to move out of my way for their own protection, or how often a co-worker has to make adjustments for my erratic actions. I don’t want to be a danger to others.
One tool we use in our organization is the 360° review; a feedback survey process that allows those around me – supervisor/director, co-workers, direct reports – to let me know how I am doing in my leadership. Their confidential responses are correlated with my self-assessment answers, and a trained feedback facilitator communicates the information during a personal appointment. The feedback confirms obvious strength and weakness areas, encourages strengths (those others saw, but I didn’t mention), and warns me about the dreaded blind spots.
The first time I went through a 360° review, it was one of the hardest things I had ever done. I felt clobbered by the negative comments and had a hard time recognizing the positive. I had a great facilitator at the time, and I have since come to greatly appreciate the process. I know that when I invite truthful feedback in my life, I grow in humility and I increase my abilities to work productively and serve others well.
I can hear truth from others in a formal 360° review or simply in vulnerable conversations with friends, family and mentors. It is one of the most important things I can do to ensure that I am a safe person, considerate of others, and aware of my impact… less blind spots!
Have can you invite someone to give you honest feedback about your blind spots?