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Moral Blind Spots

Every age has its massive moral blind spots.  We might not see them, but our children will.

Blind Spots

We do not know how the future will judge us – but judge us it will.

There are flaws in our social and moral practices that we can’t quite see, but knowing this, we can seek out these moral blind spots and throw light on them.

Looking back at such horrors [such as slavery and the Holocaust], it is easy to ask: “What were people thinking?” Yet, the chances are that our descendants will ask the same question, with the same incomprehension, about some of our practices today.

Personal Blind Spots

The concept of “blind spots” is also common in our personal lives.

Often, we talk about blind spots when referring to behaviors we have (and don’t realize) or in our relationship patterns.  Others may see our behaviors clearly, but we may be oblivious to these same actions because of our blind spots.

Blind spots (defined in the context of personal development) refer to the aspects of ourselves we aren’t fully conscious of.  This can refer to a broad spectrum of different things — our traits, values, actions, quirks, habits, feelings, thoughts, etc.

Business Blind Spots

In business, blind spots are just as prevalent.

In fact, it’s almost impossible not to have blind spots in business.

It’s simply not feasible to get in the minds of all of our customers and understand how our products and services are widely received and used.

Additionally, in larger companies, there are so many people and departments that we simply can’t keep track of (or specialize in) all aspects of the business.  And finally, because we’re so immersed in our products and corporate culture, it’s hard to have a truly objective view of our company.

Aware of Your Blind Spots

Since most of us drive a car, it is easy to consider our blind spots, whether they are global, interpersonal, or business-related, as a rearview mirror.

The rearview mirror does not immediately help you move forward.  But as you travel, you must constantly consult your rearview mirror to help keep you aware of your surroundings, such as upcoming vehicles, and what is beside you and out of your peripheral vision.

Being aware of your blind spots is precisely like your rearview mirror.

It will not immediately help you move forward, but it provides knowledge that will be invaluable as you make decisions.

Business-Specific Suggestions on Blind Spots

Leaders and entrepreneurs need to be aware of blind spots to recognize subtle warning signs of problems or concerns that don’t surface directly.  Here are several suggestions to help manage business blind spots.

  1. Make Team Members an Object of StudyAs a leader, you need to get to know your team in-depth to interpret their behavior’s subtleties.  Differences in their decision-making and influence styles are particularly important.

You must also know your dominant style and how it influences the team’s decision-making.

You may, for example, value efficiency, conduct meetings in a disciplined manner, and, accordingly, dislike people who go off on tangents or express views not supported by sound analysis and data.  In such situations, people are likely less forthcoming in expressing their opinions.

  1. Pay Attention to Behavioral Red FlagsAside from being aware of your and your team’s specific styles, you need to be mindful of subtle clues that may suggest people are not expressing what they really think.

Examples include eye rolling, omissions, silence, non-answers, and off-line input

  1. Listen DifferentlyMany leaders have healthy egos, are invested in being seen as decisive, and are action-oriented. Unfortunately, such individuals tend to have limited patience with people who belabor the obvious, take too long to get to the point, and often cut people off and finish their sentences.

The Bible

When I hear blind spots, I think of the prophets of the Old Testament.

The Israelites had a covenant with God.  He would love, protect, and teach His people (the Israelites); in return, they would worship Him and Him alone.

God held up His side of the bargain, and the Israelites failed at every turn.  Moses had just received the Ten Commandments, and the family of Abraham he was leading was already worshiping a golden calf instead of God (Exodus 32).

Over the following centuries, God sent prophets to live among His people to point out their transgressions from the covenant – their blind spots.  While some generations of Israelites got off the hook, eventually, they were allowed to be overtaken by their pagan neighbors, who treated them brutally for decades.  They had to pay the piper.

King Jehoshaphat ruled prior to the fall of the Israelites.  Yet he knew their time would soon be up.  To fight against the blind spots he could not see, he prayed,

If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.  (2 Chronicles 20:9)

Jehoshaphat knew there were things out of his control, recognized his weaknesses, prayed to God, and was confident that God would intervene.

Business leaders would do well to do the same.