Check out my blind spot

I have a blind spot. And I am going to own it by sharing it with you.

It is something that I want to shift to ensure I get more flow in my life.

My blind spot is seeking approval from others. 

This might sound counter-intuitive. Surely, if I am seeking approval from others, I’m likely to get things done smoothly, and make everyone happy and content in the meantime. Surely this will create flow in my interactions.

The thing is, it also means I might sacrifice getting the right things done or taking a much needed shift in direction. Will I focus more on consensus than fighting for a cause?

How did I identify this blind spot?

I am pretty self-aware. I regularly think about my strengths and weaknesses. I am open to feedback. I regulate my actions. And I remain focused on my behaviour and reflect on the impact this might be having.

I’m always open to improving too. I recently did a Life Styles Inventory assessment (LSI), which gives you a 360 view of your behavioural and thinking styles. It breaks these styles into three different categories:

  1. Constructive styles – as the name suggests, these are the styles which will enhance your ability to build strong relationships, achieve results, and create a strong sense of satisfaction. Examples: Achievement, humanistic.
  2. Passive styles – this behaviour is designed to protect the individual by focusing on feeling safe and secure. Examples: Approval, dependant.
  3. Aggressive styles – this is all about the self-promoting behaviour that will drive status and achieve results. Examples: Competitive, oppositional.

You get two reports. The first shows how you rate yourself on all of these attributes. The second shows how your work colleagues rate you – and could include your peers, your boss, your team.

This is where I found my blind spot. I delivered my need for approval in such an impactful way. I knew had a desire to be liked… however I thought I had shifted this in recent years to a desire to be respected. I thought I would be about average for my approval style… and rated myself that way. In the 360 view, it showed that my colleagues believe I’m well above average and put me in the 75th percentile. This means that only 1 in 4 people would be more willing to seek acceptance from others. Ouch.

“An excessive need for approval is essentially an “emotional give-away” – in the interest of being liked and accepted we “give-away” our beliefs, values, goals, sense of personal worth, direction in life and ability to make our own decisions”

Life Styles Inventory Self Development Guide

I’m concerned that my self-awareness may have led me to be too neutral; too vanilla; a sit-on-the-fence type of person who won’t offend or rock the boat… and what an irresponsible thing to give away my values, goals, sense of personal worth, or direction to the appeasement of others. This needs to change rapidly.

My action plan is to:

  • Reflect on my interactions at the end of the day. Could I be bolder in my opinion? Did I achieve my goals? Was I trying to be liked?
  • Request regular feedback from my peers, boss, and direct reports. Do they think I’m holding back? Am I too agreeable?
  • Keep writing To & Flow and refine my point of view, my beliefs, my values, and start figuring out my direction in life.

What about you? Do you have a blind spot?

There are heaps of ways to identify a blind spot. But firstly, I’ll introduce the Johari Window. This uses the simple approach of known/unknown by self and known/unknown by others to explain that no one is an open book, even to ourselves. A Blind Area is when something might be unknown to you, but known by others.  I find this a little freaky that even if we successfully hide our true nature from ourselves, we can’t hide from others!

johari-window-diagram-new

Image courtesy of http://www.mindtools.com

To recognise your Blind Area and start learning more about yourself, you can use simple or sophisticated approaches. Start by asking people for feedback, or getting your manager to help if you think it will create more honesty. You don’t want to get pleasant feedback – you need feedback that will help you grow.  Equally, you might find new strengths that you should be leveraging on a more regular basis.

You can also do more sophisticated assessments such as company-led 360 surveys or the Life Style Inventory assessment. Chat to your manager or HR about what you’re trying to achieve and see what resources are available – most places will cover it as part of your development plan.

Thank people for their feedback. Ask more questions. And then work with your boss, your mentor, or a trusted friend to work through your action plan. My blind spot here is something that I need to stop doing – but that’s not always the case. Your action plan might focus on continuing effective behaviours that your colleagues love.

All the best!

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