Curiosity Feedback Learning Reflection Self awareness

What are you pretending not to know?

To become aware of your blind spots, you need a certain degree of curiosity. You need to have a mindset of growth, learning, and confronting your fallacies.

We all have blind spots.

Blind spots are gaps in awareness we have about ourselves that other people are aware of.

Let me give you an example.

When I was younger and had just started my career, I thought it was cool, appropriate, and necessary to voice my opinion regularly. 

I was proud of my Dutch ‘directness.’

Until I started working abroad. And discovered that being direct is not always a good thing.

To be clear. 

A certain degree of openness (not the same as directness) is good.

But there’s a time and place for it. Criticizing someone in public at the wrong moment may backfire and hurt careers.

It’s a blind spot I discovered because people who wanted me to do well gave me feedback. 

It was a clear blindspot.

And unfortunately, I think many Dutch people still walk around with that blind spot.

It might be stereotyping, but it pays off to live and work abroad to discover your blind spots.

To become aware of your blind spots, you need a certain degree of curiosity. 

You need to have a mindset of growth, learning, and confronting your fallacies.

You need to be willing to ask others what they see and witness, ready to listen without judgment and interruption, and then assess whether they might be right.

If you’re not sure, ask more people. If you get consistently and directionally the same answer, you might have uncovered one of your blind spots. 

You may go from not knowing to knowing, becoming more effective as a leader and human being. 

By being curious and asking others what they see, you extend your ‘arena of impact.’

Many people never engage in this process:
  1. They’re convinced of their greatness.
  2. Consequently, there’s no curiosity to learn and grow.
  3. Even when they get to ask the question, they either interrupt or dismiss the feedback.
  4. They show no intention to truly listen and learn.
Here are a few great questions you can start asking yourself:
  • What am I pretending not to know about [this specific issue]?
  • What am I assuming here about [topic] that might not be the proper perspective?
  • Would I hire this person again if I had to do it over again?

How did I get this insight? 

Because of my football team Ajax. They fired their coach last week. 

Here’s the blind spot with them.

It was already clear to many people three months ago that the coach had lost the credibility of his players.

When a leader loses the credibility of his team, it’s over. PERIOD.

Erikjan Lantink

The executives of the club were pretending not to know this.

And part of it is understandable. But not logic.

They hired the guy a few months earlier.

He had a good reputation. 

They paid him a lot of money, which they still would have to pay. 

They consider themselves good managers.

These are all reasons why people look away from the real problem.

Ego is the issue here.

Losing face and admitting you made a mistake is not easy to do.

That’s why we often wait too long before deciding to do what’s obvious to others for a longer time.

Many people see someone in a bad relationship before they see it themselves.

Everyone has blind spots. 

Everyone is dealing with issues that are crystal clear to others. 

We’re just pretending we know better until it’s often too late.

Next time, just ask. You might get some great feedback.

Your turn: What are you pretending not to know?

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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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