Finding Your Blind Spots

“Listen, here’s the thing.  If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.”

-Mike McDermott (“Rounders”)

A few days ago a couple of guys from my brazillian jiu-jitsu class were giving me a hard time about my push-ups.  I was thinking to myself, “What?  But I’m Mister Love Fitness.”  I’ve been working out regularly for two-thirds of my life.  The push-up is the most basic, prove-your-manliness exercise there is.  It’s one of the first movements you learn in PE.  What do you mean I’m not doing them correctly?  So I went ahead and did one.  And damn it, sure enough it was not a full push-up (to the amusement of my academy mates).

My point is not about exercise or doing push-ups.  But it got me thinking about how many things we think we’re doing well in our lives when in reality we’re not doing them as well as we think we are.

In other words, where are our blind spots?

I remember reading a great saying.  “Look around the room.  Who is the only person you don’t see?”  YOU!

When I was big into bodybuilding, I would stuff my face with food, telling myself I needed the calories to move big weights and get bigger.  Blind Spot: I was getting fat.  In terms of cardiovascular health, I could barely make it up two flights of stairs without sucking wind.

When I started my first real job, I used my brand new credit card to buy new clothes, nice dinners and whatever toys I wanted.  I told myself I was a big boy now with a big boy job.  I could afford to do these things.  Blind Spot: I was an entry-level newbie with no savings.  Using my credit card was like digging a debt hole that took me a few years to get out of (thankfully, this is one blind spot I identified early).

I’m working these long hours and weekends to be the office superstar.  Blind Spot: Your wife and kids are having a hard time remembering your name.

Blind spots are dangerous because we’re not aware of them.  It’s a good idea to stop occasionally and assess where you’re at in the major areas of your life.  Try the following:

Get Feedback: Find someone who will be honest with you (guys can be brutally honest).  There might be areas in your life where you have a feeling that something is not working. Ask.  Ask your manager or supervisor about your work performance.  Ask your spouse about your marriage.  Call your 401K company and ask about your investments.  The first step in identifying your blind spots is to go to others who are looking from the outside.

Ask Good Questions:  Author Simon Sinek writes in “Start With Why” that the most successful organizations and individuals ask good questions.  Constantly asking why helps us cut through all of the garbage to get to the truth.   So even if you don’t think you have blind spots, start asking questions in all areas of your life: personal, professional, spiritual, financial and financial.  Why do you do the things you do?  The answers might surprise you.

Take Action: Like knowledge, it doesn’t matter how much you have.  Without action, there’s no growth.  I’m not saying make wholesale changes (although you might be motivated to do so).  I’m a big believer in small, incremental change.  Day by day.  Don’t eat dessert.  Take a short walk at lunch.  Pick up a book.  Have that conversation you’ve been dreading with your co-worker/spouse/friend.  Start with one thing.  In fact, I’ll be working on my push-up form today!

What are some of your blind spots?