CVs extol our virtues, aptitudes and experiences. Our idiosyncrasies can be positioned as attributes. But what about our faults and weaknesses and, more importantly, our blind spot? Aren’t these elements of our personalities just as relevant in our daily lives?
We can’t always change our faults and weaknesses, but with self-awareness, self-control and better habits, we can manage them. But what about our blind spot? That unchartered area of our psyches, that is visible to others yet not visible to ourselves, that, day-by-day, can harm our careers, health, relationships and those of others?
We all have a blind spot. Deep down in our inner psyche, we might even half-guess at its existence. But to a man and woman, we are choked at the very notion of discussing it.
However, anyone that is reasonably close to us can see into our blind spot and might be affected by it too. They might find it endearing but they might not. They might find it annoying, distasteful, offensive or upsetting instead.
Examples of blind spots include: always arriving late, absent-minded eating, heavy drinking, talking endlessly and not listening, interrupting and not letting others finish, repeated coughing and clearing throat, nagging, invading other’s space, apologising all the time, never apologising, scratching and itching, obsessive shopping, leaving-it-for-someone-else-to-do, halitosis and body odour, dirty hands and nails, entitlement, always being right, pedantic attitude, saying “like” all the time. One friend, Claire, divorced her husband because of his snoring.
I dread to think what is in my own blind spot. I can faff for the Olympics though. I can justify it as “quality faffing” doing something really useful. Quality faffing has its upsides, but mostly, I just take forever to get going.Katharine
The concept of a daemon found in Philip Pullman’s Dark Material’s trilogy, described as the “physical manifestation of the human soul in the form of an animal” might be similar to our blind spot. But instead, it’s an evil daemon or dark spirit that clings to us and plays havoc in our lives and those of others. Because that it what our blind spot does. It hides our bad.
It takes a brave individual or leader to say, “I want to know what’s in my blind spot. I want to know what I can’t see and what I am doing or thinking or saying (or not doing, thinking or saying) that is harming my career, my health, my relationships, my future and those of others.”
Why is it brave? Because, for most people, learning about their less-than-ideal characteristics, habits or outright faults, might feel hurtful, threatening or frightening. And, everyone knows that it requires an enormous amount of willpower, energy and time to change. Changing self can be a major project, let alone, a New Year’s resolution!
Arguably, to call out someone’s blind spot – when we all have one – could irreparably damage a work or personal relationship. And what of the powerful? Those individuals, who would not hesitate to end a career or relationship upon hearing a criticism, no matter how well-intended?
What can we do?
We might wish to recruit our partners and spouses for this delicate task. Or, perhaps we can ask a close or trusted friend to tell us in a kind or humourous way what is in our blind spot? Our best friends often possess the same blind spot as ourselves. They will know what is in our blind spot, because they can see it and, deep down inside, they may recognise it in themselves, but it’s obviously worse in us!
At work, maybe we could use a Myers Briggs-style guide to self-awareness and analysis that highlights our qualities and strengths alongside our blind spot? If, on hearing about our blind spot we also learnt about our positive attributes, it might become easier and safer to learn about our selves?
It is frightening, and it is difficult.
But just imagine if our blind spot was revealed to us in a way that was reviving, uplifting and healing? The revelation or answer to issues and questions that we have been trying to resolve for years. It could be the solution to bad habits we have been trying to break and incidents that repeat themselves over and over again.
There is no easy answer, and we are all a bit fragile but, let’s hope that we will all have the courage to explore our blind spot.
My friend Nicola and I were the best friends on earth. We had some terrible habits in common. We loved nothing more than consuming huge amounts crisps, wine, chocolate and television together. We were always running late and we were always trying to cram too much into our lives. This is the recipe for the best friend ever.
The other blind spot
For most people, there is another hidden and lost side to self. A second unrevealed or invisible blind spot in which hides our unrecognised, unknown, unspoken, and even unclaimed qualities and gifts.
Why is it hidden? Maybe it’s because we don’t have a culture of encouragement, of telling people how much we respect or admire them? Maybe we don’t tell our friends, colleagues and family about their wonderful qualities? Maybe we are too embarrassed to speak out and risk appearing creepy or insincere? But maybe it’s time that we did and then perhaps, we could all become brave enough to explore our other blind spot too.
We must strive to use words kindly and wisely because as they have the power to heal, encourage and uplift, so they can destroy.