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Published on December 11, 2018

How to Find Your Blind Spots in Life and Turn Them Into Strengths

How to Find Your Blind Spots in Life and Turn Them Into Strengths

In the back of your retina in each eye, there is a small surface area which contains no photoreceptor nerve cells. These cells receive light signals that your brain transmutes into images so can make sense of the world around you. However, there is a tiny area at the back of your retina surrounding your optic nerve completely void of these photoreceptors: your blind spot.

Your brain cleverly assesses the light signals coming in from around the blind spot and projects similar information in place of it, so you get a full image of what you’re focusing on. Just as your eyes have these permanent blind spots, you also have blind spots throughout your life.

For example, despite being into your third marriage, arguments tend to start around the same issues. Burnout has set in at your last three jobs and it’s only when every ounce of confidence, dignity and self-worth has been torn to shreds that you’ve resigned.

Unlike the permanent blind spot in your eyes, blind spots in your life are malleable to resolve. So how to find your blind spot?

Your growing deeper awareness of them only spawns greater self-mastery to transform those blind spot into new strengths. As you continue to grow, you’ll uncover new blind spots. With more progress at discovering them and transforming them into new superpowers, you’ll soon be welcoming them with open arms!

1. Discover potential blind spots by reviewing your wheel of life.

It’s virtually impossible to achieve change without first having clarity on where making changes will most help you. You need to learn how to discover your blind spots. But how can you center your focus on something you can’t see?

If you have ever worked with a life coach, completing an introductory Wheel of Life[1] review will be familiar to you.

If you haven’t, the good news is you don’t need to! By simply putting pen to paper, you can create and review your own Wheel of Life like the one below:

    First, allocate a life category to each main segment. Examples might be:

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    • Money or finances
    • Career or work
    • Spiritual and personal growth or religion
    • Intimate relationships (i.e. significant other, partner or spouse)
    • Family relationships and social friendships
    • Recreation, leisure activities and hobbies; and
    • Health, physical and mental
    • Another way you categorize a significant area of your life.

    Think about what enjoyment and fulfillment you currently experience in each area. Take your time reflecting on each in depth. Also, think about the things you don’t experience fulfillment on. Jot these down also. We need to look at both sides of the equation.

    Noting that each section has a rating scale from 0 to 10 (0 being the least and 10 being the most) ask yourself the following two questions whilst.

    • a) What level of satisfaction do I currently experience?
    • b) What level of satisfaction would I like to experience in the future?

    Now, look at your ratings. If you have areas you gave middle-road or good ratings but something inside you is asking you if those ratings are genuine, turn the spotlight here.

    Explore further. There’s likely something beneath your immediate consciousness that’s inviting you to probe further. Working with a coach who can probe objectively can be particularly helpful.

    Look at those areas you rated low for the first question but gave a higher rating for the second question. The size of the rating gap indicates there are blind spots primed for transformational changes.

    Your next stepping stone is setting your priorities for what changes you want and what action steps to start with.

    2. Undertake psychometric tests to help you recognize strengths and weaknesses

    If trying to randomly brainstorm what possible blinds spots draws a cognitive blank, a structured personal development questionnaire can be a helpful reference to start from.

    However, be careful of gravitating toward assessments which merely provide a fluffy summarized classification of your preferences. Certainly don’t take the results of these as gospel, either.

    Gallup’s Clifton Strengths Finder (CSF) and the VIA Character Strengths survey are popular examples of tools that can help you explore your strengths. However, there are limits with tools like these.

    If you find the CSF reveals your top strengths as creativity, for example, this does not mean you are creative in comparison with other people. For example, there will be reasons (i.e. blind spots) why your handmade Christmas cards are still sitting on your market stall table whilst your competitor’s a few tables down are selling like hotcakes!

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    As your results are not summarized in comparison with population data, drawing such a conclusion can give you a false sense of your competency.[2]

    It does, however, mean you are more creative in comparison with the other categories the CSF tool explores. You can still see that there are other skills and characteristics you don’t exercise as much. That in itself highlights features you underplay or under-use. Could improving some of them actually be quite helpful to you down the track?

    Regardless of your survey results, always ask yourself the questions against every trait or competency the assessment tool you use, mentions:

    • Does this play out to benefit me? If so, how?
    • How can this also be a hindrance? If so, how?

    Your answers to the second questions particularly are going to shed light on your blind spots.

    3. Gain feedback from qualified sources and set goals for comebacks from your setbacks

    If you’re an employee, feedback from anonymous peer 360° surveys can be particularly helpful here. You’re asking the people you work with how effective you are with behaviors and skills you are required to demonstrate with them in carrying out your role.

    As fearful as you could be about learning the opinions of those who work below, beside and above you in your workplace hierarchy, their feedback matters.

    On the other hand, feedback from well-meaning friends and family won’t, unless you work with them every day.

    Facing hard truths from peer surveys can be nerve-wracking and quickly turn your blue sky thinking to storm clouds. However, thunderstorms don’t last forever. As the saying goes that ‘every cloud has a silver lining’, so to does every negative review.

    How do you now convert the setbacks to comebacks? Take a growth mindset perspective and consider checking in with your manager or colleagues you trust to brainstorm possibilities of changes.

    If you are brave enough, you might even invite suggestions from your colleagues as to what changes they feel you could make. Invite their perspectives. Ask them to point out what you’re not seeing and make them feel safe to do so.

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    For instance, to transform your weekend market-stall card-making business into a lucrative empire that designs personal stationery for the rich and famous, you will need to flesh out business blind spots. Ask a couple of commercially successful stationers and/or artists to critique your work.

    Network with fellow business owners in your industry, seek mentors, attend business improvement workshops and seminars and work with a business coach.

    There’ll be countless a-ha moments and the time, expense and heartache your business blind spots could cost you will be cut in half!

    4. Work with a coach, mentor or psychologist to uncover limiting biases and prejudices

    We all have prejudices and biases, some of them unconscious.[3] We don’t like to admit to having them in the first place but the danger of keeping our head in the sand can cost us dearly in more ways than one.

    When hiring staff, we often hire in the likeness of ourselves. You might not realize you’re subconsciously more apt to hire the candidate you find more attractive and bubbly who strokes your ego during the interview. The average-looking, quieter straight-talker whose technical expertise perfectly fits the role has less appeal. Something just feels ‘off’ to you.

    That bubbly new hire turns out to get on well with everyone in the office, but nothing actually gets done well if it gets done at all! It’s too late to beg for the second candidate you preferred to come back. They’ve already been hired by your competitor and you’ve heard on the grapevine they’re being groomed already to spearhead a new client project. Ouch!

    Here lies the beauty of working with a coach, mentor or psychologist as they have no invested interest in you. Their wisdom and professional training will probe and challenge you to adopt different perspectives, biases and prejudices you cannot currently see. They can see often see how blind spots can affect you before you can recognize the blind spot even exists!

    Choose these people wisely. A helpful coach will be one that supports, encourages and prods you when they see you’re turning a blind eye. Your goal is to stretch so working with someone who only cheerleads and sugar-coats your challenges will keep you falling short of improving.

    Most of us operate up to 90% of the time by default. We behave and think automatically more often than not without full consciousness and awareness.

    Psychologists can teach you techniques to help you review these thought and behavior patterns. Using processes such as motivational interviewing,[4] you can gradually learn how to become aware of situations you resist, learn why you experience this and develop actionable goals to dissolve it. You can become empowered to manage your self-mastery.

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    5. Get away from familiar patterns and actively step out of your comfort zone

    You can start by looking at some of your patterns and consider gently tweaking the dynamics.

    If you are repeatedly frustrated your partner leaves their dirty clothes on the bedroom floor, yet you always pick them up and launder them, could you be enabling the thing upsetting you to continue? What would happen if you broke your patterned behavior and left them there?

    It might grate on you but what if you simply toe-flicked the clothes to a corner instead? Here’s a chance to tweak the status quo. You’re not as much stepping out of your comfort zone as much as a familiar pattern. It just happens that the pattern is one that routinely frustrates you.

    If you resent your boss constantly giving you last minute tasks which delay you an extra 20 minutes whilst your colleagues vanish from the office the moment the clock strikes 5:30 pm, how can you tweak the pattern?

    It feels good to be reliable but you feel taken for granted. What if you started an evening class which compelled you to leave work at 5:30 pm? Even better, what if you informed your boss earlier in the day you needed to leave at 5:30 pm and would need to do so from now on not because you had a class but just because you believe you deserve to as everyone else does?

    That conversation might be fairly uncomfortable if you’re used to saying yes to people and you believe your boss feels entitled to treat you as a slave.

    The conversation could also go well. What if your boss was giving you last minute tasks because he or she thought you enjoyed getting those important things done when it was quieter?

    You have opportunities to acknowledge your blind spot and convert the undesirable pattern into a new one which works in your favor.

    The bottom line

    Give yourself your best shot at revealing your blind sports by working to be in a balanced emotional state before you begin any reflection or self-evaluation exercise.

    Being at either end of the emotional spectrum will sway your perceptions and render your efforts purposeless. Let any feelings of resistance and uncomfortable emotions be your guide and seek help from outside sources qualified to help you.

    Look both ways when crossing the roads in your life and blind spots will soon be a thing of the past. At least, your current ones will be until you discover new ones further along your yellow brick road of life.

    Featured photo credit: Sarah Cervantes via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Malachi Thompson

    Executive Leadership and Performance Consultant

    The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way How to Find Your Blind Spots in Life and Turn Them Into Strengths How to Handle Rejection and Overcome the Fear of Being Rejected How to Create Your Road Map to Success (A Step-By-Step Guide)

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    Published on January 16, 2019

    How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

    How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

    We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

    You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

    You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

    That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

    Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

    1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

    Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

    We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

    To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

    At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

    The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

    2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

    Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

    The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

    In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

    It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

    It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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    So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

    • Are you a great strategist?
    • Are you an effective planner?
    • Is Project Management your strength?
    • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
    • Are you the ideas person?
    • Is Implementation your strength?

    Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

    3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

    One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

    Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

    Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

    Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

    4. Take Time for Planning

    “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

    One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

    You can take the time to think about:

    • What’s the purpose of the project?
    • How Important is it?
    • When does it need to be delivered by?
    • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
    • What are the KPIs?
    • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
    • Who is working on this project?
    • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
    • What tolerances can I add in?
    • What are the review stages?
    • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

    Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

    5. Focus on Priorities

    Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

    Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

    One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

    1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
    2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
    3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
    4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

    James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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      The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

      If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

      If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

      6. Take Time Out

      To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

      If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

      Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

      In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

      Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

      7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

      Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

      I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

      Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

      If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

      8. Stop Multitasking

      Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

      So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

      When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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      If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

      9. Work in Blocks of Time

      To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

      I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

      Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

      Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

      Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

      Then take another 10-minute break.

      Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

      By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

      10. Get Rid of Distractions

      Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

      “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

      Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

      If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

      11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

      You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

      Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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      Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

      12. Take a Time Audit

      Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

      Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

      You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

      Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

      Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

      At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

      If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

      13. Protect Your Confidence

      It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

      When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

      Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

      When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

      Final Words

      A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

      The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

      If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

      Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

      Reference

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