Are Your Blind Spots Derailing the Life of Your Dreams?
Posted on November 28, 2011 by Aya Eneli, One of Thousands of Christian Coaches on Noomii.
"We fail to see what it is we do not see. And it’s those very things we do not see that cause intelligent people to do stupid things.”Don’t Get Derailed by Your Blind Spots by Aya Fubara Eneli, M.A., J.D.
Last year, I almost lost my life and caused over $12,000 damage to my car because I forgot about my blind spot. I needed directions to a specific location and rather than talk on the phone and attempt to drive while writing the directions, I chose to pull over on the side of the highway. I got my directions, and naturally checked the traffic before quickly pulling back onto the highway. Right away, I heard the deafening sound of crunching metal as my car was propelled about another 100 yards into the brush.
My car had been hit so hard that the front tire on the driver’s side was melded into the engine, my door was almost touching the steering wheel and something was jutting out and had stopped just a few inches from my knee. Yes, I had been in an accident, and as much as I would like to blame it on the other driver, the truth is that I had forgotten that there is always that blind spot; that particular area where you cannot see a car or object . I ignored my blind spot and almost lost my life as a result. Are you aware of your blind spots?
Georgia Shaffer reminds us, “It’s the things we do not see that hinder our success!” Blind spots don’t only exist in driving; we all have mental or psychological blind spots that could be causing us pain and frustration. If we are honest, we all have those areas in our lives or character traits that we either don’t see or choose not to acknowledge.
Daniel Goldman defines a blind spot as, “An appropriate metaphor for our failure to see things as they are in actuality. We fail to see what it is we do not see. And it’s those very things we do not see that cause intelligent people to do stupid things.” So, what stupid things have you done lately? Is there a decision you made that you now regret? Perhaps it is because you ignored one or more of the following blind spots.
Blind Spot #1: We think we are the exception to the rule.
Self confidence is a desirable state, but when that confidence is based on less than the truth, we can actually get ourselves into some highly undesirable situations. For instance, a person who is diagnosed with high blood pressure who nevertheless decides that since they know someone with the same condition who still lived a long life, it is okay not to heed the doctor’s advice and make some changes.
According to recent research, 94% of people rank themselves as “above average”. People who are the least skilled are more likely to overestimate their skills and naturally find themselves in more trouble. Interestingly enough, the gifted individuals tended to underestimate themselves. In his book, Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert writes, “Science has given us lots of facts about the average person, but one of the most reliable of these facts is that the average person does not consider themselves an ‘average’ person.” Go figure!
Solution: Never assume you are the exception to the rule. Take precautions. Seek wise counsel. Ask trusted people if there are patterns they have noticed in you that tend to get you in undesirable situations. Examine your own experiences. Is there an area where you never seem to get ahead?
Blind Spot #2: We prefer our fantasies to the truth of our realities.
How many times have you known the truth about a situation, but like an ostrich, chose instead to bury your head in your fantasies and just hope it works out well? People do it time and time again in relationships, with their weight and health, with their finances, and even at work. I have worked with clients who have been told months in advance that the likelihood of their position being eliminated due to funding is very high, nonetheless, those clients waited until they were actually fired to begin to search for alternative means of income.
People get married fully aware that the character traits of the other person indicate almost certain doom, then they get hurt and feel betrayed when that person lives up to who they were all along.
Solution: Adopt the Stockdale Paradox instead. Retain faith that you will prevail in the end regardless of the difficulties AND at the same time, confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be. This paradox is from Admiral Jim Stockdale who was the highest-ranking United States military officer in the Hanoi Hilton prisoner-of-war camp during the Vietnam War. He survived eight years of imprisonment from 1965 to 1973 without any prisoner rights, no set release date, and no certainty he would survive to ever see his family again. Notwithstanding, he worked to create conditions that would increase the number and likelihood of prisoners surviving their imprisonment unbroken.
The bottom line is that life can be unfair. Sometimes, things work for our good through no particular effort of ours, and sometimes things fail regardless of how hard we worked. Face your reality; don’t ignore it, then work to achieve your goal in spite of that reality. For instance, my mother is dyslexic but she never considered that a reason to quit on her dream of attaining a Ph.D. She knew she had to work harder to excel, and she did just that, with seven children no less!
Blind Spot #3: We focus on a few details and we miss the big picture.
We have all heard the saying “Couldn’t see the forest for the trees.” This brings to mind the true story of a woman who was so bothered by a bunion that she decided to use a shotgun to get rid of it once and for all. She succeeded, but in the process also blew off her entire big toe. Ouch! Are there times when you are so focused on an aspect of your life that you fail to see it in the larger context? I think that’s what happens to people when they decide that life is no longer worth living. They fixate on whatever is lacking in their lives and forget to understand the gift of life itself and the fact that no situation is permanent unless you make it so.
Can you imagine if Tyler Perry had focused solely on the fact that he was homeless and not on the potential that lay in him? What if George Washington Carver, Thomas Edison and all the other scientists had focused on their initial ‘failures’ instead of the lessons to be gleaned in the larger context of scientific knowledge?
Solution: Regularly practice the 3 H’s Technique. Ask your heart, “How do you feel about this possibility?” Ask your head, “Have you examined how this lines up with your core values and life purpose?” Ask the Holy Spirit, “God, what are you saying to me regarding this situation? What would you have me do?” Again, seek out wise counsel from someone who cares about you, but is not as emotionally involved.
Blind Spot #4: We do not know what we do not know.
I was reminded again why I need to consistently work with a personal trainer in order to meet and maintain my health goals. I was in the gym working really hard. I remember, wondering why I had worked up less of a sweat than when I work with my trainer. At some point, the head trainer and owner of the gym came up and asked me what muscle group I was targeting with my routine. When I answered him, he informed me that my form was all wrong and while I was burning calories from my exercise, I would not see the results I was looking for in that muscle group because I wasn’t even engaging those muscles. He showed me the proper form and I immediately felt the difference.
Have there been times in your life when you realized (perhaps too late) that you did not know what you didn’t know? This plays out in so many areas of our lives. Imagine a husband who plies his wife with expensive gifts and is frustrated when she seems not to appreciate them, and never realizes that his wife’s love language is “Words of Affirmation”? He could have achieved his goal by just writing her great notes, sending her cards and speaking affirming words to her. Such a husband could become so discouraged by his wife’s response that he concludes she doesn’t love him and chooses to file for divorce.
Solution: Know what you are getting in life and do not avoid communicating with others about your frustrations. All relationships require some conflict to grow (so long as it is productive conflict). People and teams that avoid conflict actually fail more often. Learn effective communication skills and conflict resolution strategies. Be open to seeing things from a different point of view. Read widely to expand your horizons. Seek out expertise. Get a coach to help you creative successful roadmaps for your life. Pray often.
We all have blind spots, but they can be mitigated with discipline and wisdom. Don’t let your bind spots derail you any longer.
Aya Fubara Eneli is a best-selling author, Christian Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Attorney. Her life’s purpose is to empower and equip people to live up to their highest potential. For more information or to book her for your next event, visit http://www.ayaeneli.com/, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.