Blind Spots

What do blind spots cost you?

From a driving perspective, it can cost you an accident and higher insurance rates.

From a leadership perspective, it can cost you a career and put your organization at risk.

Everyone has blind spots, no matter how self-aware we think we are. Think about it. When we ask others to describe us, it tends to lean more towards the positive (e.g., empathetic, resourceful, adaptable, etc.).

What do we often do with the unsolicited negative descriptions of us (e.g., arrogant, selfish, bossy, etc.)? We chalk it up to the messenger being out of their mind.

If different individuals use the same unfavorable words to describe you, there’s a high probability it is a blind spot.

We often view ourselves differently than others. Imagine my surprise after completing a 360 Assessment. Areas I wished to improve were ranked as strengths by others. Whereas, areas I felt more comfortable with revealed that some tweaking could be to my benefit.

Some leaders take for granted that being in business for a significant period, means they are doing everything right. When in reality, they are often one disruption away from closing their doors.

Blind spot leadership ultimately costs team performance, customers, and future growth.

Graph: Tech in Common

Mindset

Imagine riding down the highway knowingly exceeding the speed limit, and out of nowhere, a cop signals you to pull over. Do you immediately get upset? Do you offer up an excuse? Or, do you accept full responsibility for the speeding ticket the cop later hands you?

Now, let’s say the reason you were putting the pedal to the metal is that you were rushing to be on time for a meeting. You arrive at the meeting late, and human nature wants to provide a reason why. Depending on the audience, you may blame it on getting a ticket en route, or if you choose not to divulge your business, you may blame it on the traffic. Either way, the blame continues.

Blaming people or circumstances is easy. Taking responsibility, not so much. There is a saying that when you point the finger at others, three fingers point back at you.

When unfortunate events happen to you, how do you react? How does your mindset play into it?
High
A passive mindset is an assumption that life happens to you, and you’re not responsible.

An active mindset means you take ownership and are responsible for the things you control.

Adapted from FS (Farnam Street)

Out On A Limb

One of my Facebook connections posted a photo of Alex Honnold standing on the ‘Thank God Ledge’ in Yosemite National Park. It reminded me of when I belly-crawled my way through a section of the Sedona Mountains, knowing that one false move wouldn’t end well for anyone. As I inched my way forward, I silently prayed that everyone in my group stayed in sync and, I refused to look down.

Going out on a limb for someone or something can be a terrifying feat. And as leaders, we are tasked with taking our team, the organization, and ourselves to new heights. Rarely, do our team want to leave the comforts of what they’ve come to know, to venture into uncertain territory that is risky or scary.

It takes courage to go out on a limb and can be paralyzing to even the best leaders. Moreover, as a leader, we often have to go first. But what is the risk if we don’t? If we don’t grow or transform our business, we fail. This pandemic has proven that.

A motivating factor in the workplace is a sense of accomplishment. And that’s what I felt once I made it to the top of the mountain. Taking a chance on something new can lead to great rewards. Calculated risks often overshadow the uneasiness we may feel on the road to meaningful change.

Food For Thought Friday

💡 What size is your leadership (S, M, L, XL, or One Size Fits All)?

💡 Think critically about what you see, hear, and witness.

💡 Who and what do you gravitate to? Why?

💡 Character is revealed when pressure is applied.

💡 Many imagine. Few execute.

💡 What you “don’t want” and “don’t like” is not a meaningful contribution.

💡 Gratitude is an attitude and a powerful influence over behavior.

💡 Who can tell your story better than you?

💡 Your response defines who you really are in other people’s eyes.

💡 Consistency beats intensity.

My Mission Is…

Throughout my career, I have helped many entrepreneurs fine-tune their business plans. I am also in the process of developing my own. As we all know, it is common practice for organizations to develop mission statements to provide employees a clear purpose.

If you take an honest assessment of your mission statement, does it unify, direct, and inspire employees to spend a significant part of their day fighting for your cause? As a leader, do you embody the mission?

Mission statements are more than just a public relations exercise.

Consider this one: “The Company’s primary objective is to maximize long-term stockholder value while adhering to the laws of the jurisdictions in which it operates and at all times observing the highest ethical standards.”

Shouldn’t all organizations strive for this? Does this mission statement motivate people to get out of their bed, sacrifice wages at times, and help them understand their role in achieving a collective goal?

When the mission, vision, and values of the organization fail to align with an employee’s value system, conflict arises.

While organizations are adapting to the economic challenge of a lifetime, now is the time to reevaluate your mission statements with renewed relevance.

Graphic: Nonprofit Hub

Perception or Reality

When we hear statements like:

“Why is this happening to me?”
“This isn’t fair.”
“This can’t be true.”
“It shouldn’t be this way.”
“Story of my life.”

Someone’s perception or expectation is not meeting reality. What are your options at that moment? As the late Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

We all see reality through a personal lens shaped by our beliefs, culture, religion, experiences, etc. And our perception of reality often dictates our behavior. When we refuse to allow any flexibility in our attitude, we close our minds to possibility and sometimes the truth. Self-defeating statements don’t change the situation. It only makes the experience more painful.

Old Dog, New Tricks

A year ago, I welcomed a four-year-old (32 in human years) untrained Yorkshire Terrier into our family. It has not been the smoothest transition, but we have made great strides. There is an adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that doesn’t hold up well if the old dog wants to learn.

Growth is possible for everyone, no matter their age. We cannot define people by their past, and their history is not always a predictor of their future. We must let go of unrealistic expectations, which isn’t easy to do. I have gone from my home smelling like potpourri throughout, to the smell of dog urine in unexpected places. Yet, I am appreciative of the continued progress our Yorkie makes with consistent training.

Leadership is about enabling the full potential in others regardless the age or history. In this era of longevity, making assumptions about the learning capabilities of a multi-generational workforce is a mistake. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Be realistic that it may take a little longer than a young dog. But, once that old dog learns, it’s there for the long-term.

Uncertainty

I, like many others, have had to regroup from the changes that 2020 has brought about. Finding ways to balance the unpredictability of my career and the “new normal” called chaos is not for the faint of heart. Despite the challenges, I realize that inaction is a waste of time and will get you nowhere fast.

When we overanalyze and fight for never-changing security, we stop experiencing the full array of choices life has to offer during our journey. Many of us have an obsessive desire to know what is happening now and what tomorrow will bring. Wondering what the future holds is a tough question at any age. Instead of trying to figure it all out, get comfortable with the discomfort of uncertainty.

There is an ancient Japanese Philosophy called Wabi-Sabi. It is a mindset that embraces the unpredictability of life, and it teaches us to celebrate the way things are instead of how it should be.

Life is unpredictable. And that’s okay. Embrace it. When nothing is certain, everything is possible! Our plans for tomorrow, next month, or next year may not unfold as we expect. But it is imperative to take action and keep moving forward.

Illustration: The Ready

Food For Thought Friday

💡 The only thing we can count on is what we do today.

💡 If you think there is only one way to do something, you lose.

💡 Your greatest accomplishment may be helping people accomplish great things.

💡 Your greatest failure may be preventing others from achieving greatness.

💡 Your inner attitude does not have to reflect your outward circumstance.

💡 Patience is the hardest when we need it the most.

💡 The most extraordinary experience you will ever have involves you.

💡 Leadership is a way of being, not just something we do.

💡 You cannot learn from a mistake you do not acknowledge making.

💡 What would you do in a world with no constraints?

Leader or Follower

A common misconception is that you are either a leader or a follower. The reality is that we all lead in some way (influence) and we all follow something or someone (religion, etc.).

Operationally, you will always have someone to report to, no matter where you are in the food chain. Corporate culture is pretty straightforward: entry-level employees reports to a supervisor, supervisors reports to a manager, managers reports to an executive, executives reports to a senior executive, and the CEO reports to the board or other key stakeholders.

In our effort to master the skills of leadership, we tend to lose sight that there is more to the leadership equation. For leaders to lead, they need exceptional talent and the ability to attract followers. They also need to master the art of humbly following others.

Being a good follower teaches us how to value the contributions others make, as well as develop our emotional intelligence. It doesn’t matter how many followers we have. We still share the same vulnerabilities, shortcomings, and struggles as other human beings.

Many leaders could accomplish more if they became aware of their need for personal growth and development for themselves and others. “He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.” Aristotle