Are your Blind Spots keeping you from Achieving your Goals?
Several years ago I developed the tagline “Line of Sight Leadership” which referred to a leader’s ability to develop a clear and unobstructed vision of where they (and their organization) are now and where they want to be in the future.
It is this high degree of clarity that allows leaders to identify and ultimately remove the barriers and/or obstructions that block the path to our predetermined goal. At the time, I saw these barriers as tangible items that acted as restraints to our progress and achievement. That has all changed since my introduction to professional coaching.
I now believe with certainty that the most daunting barriers to achieving our predetermined goals are not tangible at all. In fact, they are blind spots and self-limiting beliefs that remain unrecognized and undermine our ability to pursue our aspirations.
Blind Spot: One’s prejudice, or an ignorance that is beyond their field of awareness.
Self-Limiting Belief: A personal prevailing belief that prevents the development or expression of one’s self.
It goes without saying that no degree of knowledge, skill, or self-efficacy can remove a barrier that is unrecognized. So how can we overcome an unrecognized barrier? Furthermore, how can we know that we have a blind spot or self-limiting belief if they are not on our radar?
I have found when working with my coaching clients, that when someone is experiencing frustration from repeated unsuccessful attempts to achieving a goal, the underlying cause is often related to a barrier created by a blind spot or self-limiting belief.
Take for example one of my clients, a clinician, who believes that becoming the best manager possible is the secret to creating a successful clinical healthcare practice. She works diligently in establishing systems within her practice and managing these systems. She even hires professional practice consultants to help develop the best possible systems and teach her to become an exceptional systems manager.
Years pass, and the doctor, in spite of their best intentions and effort, becomes increasingly frustrated because she never is able to realize her aspirations. She begins to find less joy in the practice as the burden of overseeing systems become more and more tedious and less enjoyable. With each passing year staff becomes less engaged and shows an increasing lack of self-motivation. Their once clear line of sight is now becoming blurred as they find an increasing number of obstacles blocking the path to her initial predetermined goal. Eventually she can no longer recognize the once cherished goal and is now experiencing an acute case of “Burnout”. The burnout is characterized by a state of depression brought on by disillusionment, a victim’s perspective, and an abundance of self-limiting beliefs and blind spots.
When she came to my coaching practice, this is where she was… in the Burnout phase.
How did these once noble aspirations deteriorate into this state of despair?
The answer is that the doctor was doomed to fail due an initial unrecognized blind spot in the form of “an ignorance that is beyond our field of awareness”. Unfortunately, this doctor’s same ignorance is shared by the vast majority of healthcare professionals that have never been taught how to effectively run a business. This blind spot makes us vulnerable, and we are easily duped into believing that managing a business is our key to success when, in fact, managing, even when done properly, is only part of the success equation.
The blind spot, or ignorance if you will, relates to leadership.
As Warren Bennis, the professor emeritus of the USC School of Leadership and leadership icon has stated, “A great business must be led.”
If the disillusioned doctor knew that leadership was the missing link she would have surely taken this path initially. Her leadership skills would have empowered and motivated the staff by creating a culture of commitment with shared values and purpose. She would have provided her staff with the resources, knowledge, and skill to manage the business systems so the doctor could concentrate on patient care. And most importantly, she would have allowed he staff to make decisions and experience the critical motivational factor found in her staff’s sense of self efficacy…… the sense that they have the skill and ability to achieve their professional aspirations and play a significant part in the practice’s success.
My client’s failure to recognize this blind spot had a significant life-altering effect. As the situation spiraled out of control, the doctor developed other barriers in the form of self-limiting beliefs. After numerous failed attempts to realize her goal, the doctor came to the conclusion that she was incapable of realizing those aspirations. She felt trapped in this joyless and unfulfilling environment and eventually developed a victim’s perspective to the situation which spilled over and affected her personal life.
Having recognized this blind spot early on could have resulted in the doctor taking a different path and realizing a significantly different result. The doctor would have been freed of the management burden by a very competent, self-motivated and committed staff. The doctor would have used the energy wasted on managing systems for a better, much more meaningful and purposeful cause……….pursuing her vision and noble aspirations.
This is just one example of how blind spots and self-limiting beliefs can negatively impact our lives. Perhaps the most significant and damaging self-limiting belief is that we have no self-limiting beliefs.
Each of us possesses numerous unrecognized beliefs that limit our growth and development. It is important that we free ourselves of blind spots and self-limiting beliefs if we are to reach our full potential in our personal and professional lives.
These insidious beliefs are best recognized through self-awareness that for some can be achieved internally. For others however, an external source in the form of a mentor or professional coach is the surest way to gain this awareness and leads us to overcome blind spots and self-limiting beliefs. The cost of professional help is a small price to pay when the potential benefit is so significant. This doctor and I are on a clear path and taking the steps so she learns to recognize these blind spots and self-limiting beliefs in order to progress and not move backward.
What self-limiting beliefs do you have that might be getting in your way? OR….what if you asked your team to help you identify blind spots and help you create solutions? Could they? You might be surprised by what you discover.
“Most ailing organizations have developed a functional blindness to their own defects. They are not suffering because they cannot resolve their problems but because they cannot see their problems.”
Dr. Joel Small and Dr. Edwin McDonald, the founders of Line of Sight Coaching, are dental practitioners, authors, speakers and Business Leadership Coaches who work with healthcare professionals to help them build more successful practices so they can live the balanced life they seek.