Every one of us is at the center of our universe. In other words,

the reality is what we make it,

We base every thought, idea, or decision that we take on how we perceive the world around us. It is what led Warren Buffet to say that

“what the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.”

It is why most of us believe that we know ourselves better than we do. All the while overrating or underestimating others. Many of us are completely unaware of the impact we have on other people, or what affect others have on us.

It was former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who once talked about

“known knowns,”

“known unknowns,” and

“unknown unknowns.”

The first two are somewhat self-explanatory. It’s the last one that keeps us from experiencing real happiness and success. These so-called unknown unknowns are our blind-spots. (our weaknesses that we are not even aware of,). It’s only through self-awareness that we will ever be able to overcome them.

Blind Spots Across the Corporate Ladder

Conventional wisdom will have us believe that

the higher we climb the corporate ladder, the more self-awareness we will encounter.

Still, Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, says that

We find peak emotional intelligence (EQ) in the middle management positions.

Middle managers are the most level-headed.

The titles of director and above, are plagued by “the lowest EQ scores in the workplace,”

Among the most common leadership-position blind spots, are things like

being afraid to ask for help or

being unaware of how you affect others.

Also, having an:

  • I know everything attitude,
  • conflict avoidance,
  • refusing responsibility by blaming your circumstances,
  • treating commitments casually,
  • conspiring against others,
  • not taking a stand on anything,
  • low standards on performance,
  • etc.

How to See and Eliminate Your Blind Spots

Being self-aware about your thoughts and actions is an excellent way to rid yourself of any blind spots that you may have. There are several ways to approach the issue.

Surround Yourself with Diverse Thinkers

Every person should strive to learn more. It is a wise choice to surround yourself with a variety of learned people. These people have different perspectives, experiences and approaches on how to solve problems.

Identify Patterns by Examining Your Past

To better understand and identify your blind spots, you will have to examine your past. Look for repeating patterns. Ask yourself what feedback have you received from advisors about your decisions. How have you succeeded as a leader and where have you struggled the most? What situations resulted in desirable or undesirable results?

Identify the Triggers

Each one of these blind spots is “triggered” by a specific situation. These triggers cause us to react without even thinking instinctively. Knowing what these triggers are is a critical step in eliminating these blind spots. They could be events, circumstances, or people.

Have Someone Hold You Accountable

Once you’ve identified your blind spots, have a trusted friend hold you accountable. Have them do this every time you repeat them. It is through practice that we will rid yourself of these habits. They are well ingrained in our consciousness. Thus we will continue to do them even after their identification. That is why practice is essential.

Conclusion

Self-awareness is a journey that will continue for the rest of your life. If you ever reach a point where you believe you know yourself, you are, in fact, blind. The point of self-awareness is to identify your unknown unknowns. If you think that you know everything, point to the exact opposite.

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

Socrates

Philip Uglow is the President of Renshi Consulting Group. Renshi lowers clients costs by pulling ideas from your people in the moment, when they are most busy with real work. This is when they learn. This is when they change.