The key to sustaining innovation is being able to think out of the box—keeping fresh ideas coming. Taking leadership to the next level and providing programs that “go deep” means literally digging deeper. Over time, we develop tunnel vision. I know I have. So, I have to consciously keep myself out of that rut. Otherwise, the potential for blind spots increases—I continue to discover that I have more than my fair share. I can at times simply hit a brick wall. My team can also hit a brick wall. And, ultimately innovation is halted.
There is nothing wrong that I have blind spots. It is what I choose to do or not do with them when I become aware they exist that becomes most significant. Gaining an awareness of blind spots can come from a variety of programs. As an example, I participated in an Emotional Intelligence program through Talent Smart. They performed a 360 evaluation among family, peers, etc. that measured my Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ) score which falls on a bell curve. This helped open my eyes to my self awareness and awareness of how I impact those around me. This is over simplifying the program. Another program that goes deep with astounding success is Landmark Education. They focus specifically on becoming present to blind spots. These both are incredible programs with amazingly transformative results.
I have found, as I surface my blind spots, they are often suppressed by my ego and I simply zone out—usually there is some background inner chatter involved too. There are even times when I need something, and it was right in front of me the entire time. Does this ever sound familiar for you?
There is so much that I do not know that I do not know, or said another way, I am unconsciously incompetent. I have to become a conscious observer and eventually as a conscious observer, become consciously competent. This refers to the Four Stages of Learning (Competence) cited by Abraham Maslow in 1940.
Becoming a conscious observer allows me to be free from bias and become present to when my ego wants to run the show. I can make mote informed and enlightened decisions. This is an ongoing process, of course.
Ways I have found to create greater awareness of my blind spots are:
- Be humble: I am first humbled and present to the fact I do not know it all. I do not have all of the answers. Others know more than me and the way to getting ideal results is to allow others to contribute. Being in this space allows me to be present, actively listen. This opens new avenues and new possibilities.
- Be authentic: Create, build and establish relationships with people based upon authenticity. Create a space where people can share openly and freely.
- Be asking: Perform a regular pulse check by requesting feedback and input. Performing an informal evaluation of performance and results among colleagues and stakeholders has become quite helpful for me. Ask for feedback and listening to it builds trust and creates stronger relationships.
- Be open: I have to step out of myself and set judgments aside to keep an open mind and be present when people are sharing. I have to avoid closing down and dismissing the feedback. Know that what that person is saying has validity and is true for them.
- Be relating: Develop a relationship with a peer group, mentor, coach or some trusted advisor(s) with whom I can open up and share my feelings, concerns and talk through challenges.
- Be proactive: I have to proactively allow others to contribute and share their wisdom, experience and passion. I have to be careful not come from a place of expectation. This creates buy-in and allows contribution.
- Be relaxed: Getting into a relaxed alpha state also opens my mind up to blind spots. There are techniques and tools that can support the process of getting there and remaining there on a more consistent basis that may include music, meditation, etc. This is about getting the ego out of the way for me.
In conclusion, the secret to sustaining innovation and breaking down that brick wall is discovering and managing blind spots. This is an ongoing process. It means knowing myself better and remaining disciplined to create new habits that keep me from going down the rabbit hole my ego wants to take me. Regular meditation time or even workout time to release stress helps. It all comes down to balance. Balance helps quiet the mind chatter and keep the focus. Use these 7 B’s to manage blind spots and remember there is nothing wrong if we do not know it all. That is what life is about for me, learning, growing and sharing our knowledge to help others.
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