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If you’re not working in earshot from others, try out this tongue twister – it’s a formidable intro to acquiring a crucial leadership skill:
I slit a sheet, a sheet, I slit.
Upon a slitted sheet, I sit.
This article is indeed about leadership and not about perfect pronunciation. Let me explain. A while ago, I noticed that people around me started to develop a serious lisp. It started with family members and spread to clients and colleagues, and I almost wondered if there was something like a speech bug going around that was contagious.
I kept those puzzling observations to myself but when my husband muddled his “s”s during a dinner conversation, I couldn’t contain myself and blurted: “What is going on with everyone around me starting to lisp all of a sudden?” I earned surprised looks. “What are you talking about?” “Why is everyone slurring their s’s?” More befuddled looks around the dinner table. And denial! I asked the family to say one of my favorite tongue twisters and there! There it wath! Like thomething from a thlapthtick movie!
After much discussion, research, and a trip to a specialist, the diagnosis was confirmed: People around me did not suddenly develop speech impediments. It was me! I had lost 50% of my mid- to high-range frequency hearing in one ear, and I could no longer easily distinguish between “s” and “f” sounds.
The coach in me said “duh!!”
How unlikely was it that the rest of the world was “all wrong” and I was perfect? Why didn’t I check in with myself to see whether the issue was maybe ME? My ENT specialist explained that hearing loss usually happens gradually, and the brain does an excellent job compensating until a certain threshold is crossed and the hearing gap can no longer be closed. The hearing becomes muddled and strained. Meanwhile, the listener is trying to make sense of this new sensation, often looking for external explanations, unable and perhaps unwilling to figure out what is really going on. A perfect example of a true blind spot.
Blind spots: Do you have them or do they have you?
Blind spots in a car hide a part of the driver’s field of vision. Since any objects inside those blind spots are not visible, a driver may act as if they are not there at all, such as pulling in front of a car that was traveling in the rear blind spot. When we talk about psychological blind spots, we refer to the inability to see perspectives other than those directly apparent to us.
Princeton University psychologist Emily Pronin created the term bias blind spot. It refers to our inability to realize our own cognitive biases and it represents our tendency to think that we are less biased than others. We think we see things in an objective and rational way, while others have a biased judgment. Our ability to recognize and adapt our way of thinking and acting is thereby limited. We typically do not have problems recognizing blindspots in others, which indicates that it is not a matter of ignorance but rather of a motivated ignorance. We choose – more or less consciously – not to know more, not to deepen, not to understand, and to protect the image that we have formed of ourselves.
A blind spot may prevent us from assessing facts appropriately, which can lead to making ill-informed decisions or taking action that clashes with what others deem to be appropriate from their perspective.
If you find yourself having similar challenges with a range of different people, it may indicate a pattern that is worth your special attention. If the frequency of those incidents increases, or if a pattern extends to a growing number of people, consider that you may be experiencing a response loop of a blind spot behavior – yours!
What can you do when you suspect a blind spot in your life?
Become a diver!
- Describe: What do I see in an objective, factual way?
- Interpret: What do I think about what I have described?
- Verify: What do others think? Is my interpretation accurate?
- Evaluate: How do I assess what I think and others think?
- Resolve: Explore your options and take control over your action.
How self-aware are YOU? How often do you pause and re-assess whether it is them or you? Who would be a valuable person to have on your blind spot detection team?
Increase your self-awareness and your ability to reveal blind spots!
- Pause and see if you can think of challenges or surprising encounters that you are experiencing on a recurring basis.
- What is happening in those situations? What is your initial interpretation?
- What role do you usually play in those situations and how might you be contributing to an outcome that may not be ideal?
- Who can give you an objective perspective on the situation?
Go DIVE more often!
Happy ending to one of my blind spots: I am the proud wearer of a super cool hearing aid with magic powers, and I can now hear the world crystal clear!
I shared with my email subscribers that I had an experience last month that jolted me back to my core values. You can read about it here. But why wait for a jolting experience to remind yourself of your core values? We are about to enter the last quarter of 2019 – a great time to recalibrate and re-engage with why you do what you do.
In the fullness of life’s demands, your core values keep you grounded and help with focus or refocus. My core values are love and the potential for transformation into a brighter future. Those core values are what motivates and drives my own leadership journey and what fuels my work.
I am currently pursuing further education and am working with some colleagues on a brand new service that I can’t wait to share with you. Deciding to dive into this new venture was risky given all the other responsibilities on my plate. With my core values serving as a compass for my business decisions, I am confident that I am on the right path. My values are the foundation of my approach to professional and personal decisions. They help me face challenges and find creative solutions. They bridge what is important to me as an individual with what is important to me as a leader. They make me a powerful thought partner and compassionate facilitator and coach.
“Caring and compassion needs to be a value and not a program to have a positive impact in the workplace.”
REFLECTION & ACTION
What values lie at the core of YOUR life?
- How do you express them in your work/life?
- How much room do you give them to inform your decisions?
- How often do you pause and calibrate your actions with your values?
I invite you to reconnect with your values!
- Write down your core values on a post-it note and place it somewhere where you can see it frequently.
- Ask colleagues, clients and family members what their personal core values are, what makes those important to them and how they apply their values to the work they do.
- When you get ready for an important presentation, meeting or decision, pause for a minute, connect with your values and set your intentions for a positive outcome.
Being connected with your values and taking action in harmony with those values will lead to authenticity and self-confident, congruent decision making. I can’t wait to hear how this challenge re-engages you with what you do on an every day basis as well. Find me on LinkedIn here or schedule a discovery call today to talk about your findings!
This month’s challenge to my email subscribers was to start an epidemic – in a really good way. I am hoping to trigger a wave of goodwill. I am imagining 1000 people in my network spreading positive intentions and an uplifting mood, infecting 10 people with a good bug, who will then pass it on to 10 others. Soon, there will be a ripple effect that can be felt around the world. Can you picture that? Doesn’t that sound and feel amazing?
An uplifting mood can be exquisitely contagious when it is passed on through an unexpected act of kindness, a simple but personal expression of gratitude, a recognition of potential or an acknowledgement of a unique talent that is not obvious to everyone. What these gestures communicate is that you truly see the individual, that you personally care and that you attribute value to that person. And that is what we all deeply crave for: being seen, being valued and being able to contribute positively. We all need human connection, love that bridges differences, and appreciation that points to a deeper purpose so we feel that we belong.
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
All it takes is paying attention to the people around you, noticing them and being creative in connecting with them on a personal level – and be it just for a brief moment.
If you need a little kick-start for boosting your own mood and connecting to awe and wonder, watch one of my favorite leadership clips about gratitude by Louie Schwartzberg:
Now that you are inspired, here are a few mini challenges to get you started:
- Engage in and log 10 unexpected acts of kindness and notice what happens.
- Express your gratitude for another person with a specific comment.
- Let others know what blossoming potential or underappreciated talent you see in them.
Since sending out this challenge, I have received a few stories from my subscribers and clients about spreading positivity:
“I praised my admin assistant during an all staff meeting for putting together a rather complex project chart that will be distributed to senior leadership. She received several positive feedback comments afterwards and had a noticeably cheerful way of interacting for several days afterwards. I realized how often I take exceptional work for granted in my field and will express positive appreciation for excellent work more often in the future.” Senior Leader in Technology Company
“The challenge made me more aware of the quality and intentionality of my interactions with other people. I found myself making more eye contact and being more present and less hurried in the moment when I tried to just connect with the people around me. It actually made mundane interactions more fun, like buy coffee at the coffee shop or saying good morning to the receptionist and greeting her by name. Funny how paying attention to the positive things in life lifted my own mood.” Manager at Local Government
“We have a challenging person on our team and most people avoid talking with her. I made a point to stop at her desk at least once every week over the last 3 weeks, asked her a question and just listened to her for a couple of minutes. I think she is very lonely. I am not sure if she noticed my efforts but I feel better when I see her now and it feels less tense with her.” Manager at Non-profit Organization
Are you ready to get involved in making the world a better place for a moment or maybe even longer?
REFLECTION & ACTION
- What is your dominant mood? How do you express that?
- How do other people’s moods impact you?
- What can you do for yourself to lift your mood?
- What do you notice when you assume positive intent in others under all circumstances?
- What emotions do you want people to feel when they encounter you?
- What actions can you take to invite those feelings?
Questions about this exercise or other leadership capacity building practices?
Contact me via email or even better, schedule a free Discovery Coaching Call with me! I love talking with people!