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How to Achieve Sucess - Claudia Shelton Interview

Blind Spots: Achieve Success By Seeing What You Can't See


Claudia Shelton is the founder and president of The Hopewell Group, a nationally recognized authority on personal and professional development, and the author of Blind Spots: Achieve Success By Seeing What You Can't See. Claudia recently sat down to share a little bit about blind spots and her book with About.com readers. Enjoy!

What exactly is a blind spot, as described in your book?

Something we do unconsciously that gets in the way of accomplishing our goals. Often it is a way of thinking, feeling or behaving we don't pay attention to that annoys other people. They can appear to others as an irritation, like too much talking and not enough listening. However, they can also be seen as serious enough to derail our careers and seriouslydiminish our possibilities for success. The trick to turning them into strengths is never to think of them as a fault or weakness. That gives them permanence. Think of them instead as the door to finding possibilities for significantly increasing our successes.

Are your blind spots usually seen by others?

Yes. When I ask people who report to any manager about their boss's blind spots, they usually have clear, quick and accurate responses. Adolescents can easily point out the blind spots of both parents. Spouses know their spouse's blind spots intimately. The funny thing is that what we may think people don't see about us is usually common knowledge of those around us.

How is being unaware of how our behavior is interpreted by others potentially a major vulnerability?

Being unaware of a blind spot is like carrying a time bomb. Others see our blind spot but back away when we give signals that we don't want to hear about it. Some try to tell us that we're doing something that bothers them, but we ignore it.

Example: Our boss who values timeliness tells us that he wants our reports turned in on time, but we continue to be late because we think it's unimportant. Only when we miss a promotion, a raise or an important goal, do we begin to examine our blind spots--Or we stay stuck in denial and blaming others and never reach our goal.

What are the five most common blind spots?
  1. Misused Strengths: A strength you use too little or too much.
  2. Old Habits: Relying on behaviors that made you successful in the past that are no longer effective.
  3. Stress Expressed: How your behavior under stress affects others in ways you are unaware of.
  4. Untuned Radar: Ignoring the non-verbal cues you give and receive
  5. Disconnect: Ignoring factors important to effective communication.

You have a 110-question Blind spots Profile on your website at WhatsMyBlindSpot.com. Are most people surprised at their results?

The Blind Spots Profile helps people identify their gut strengths and related blind spots. Most people experience a comfort level in confirming something about themselves that they have slowly become aware of. The Profile usually clarifies two or three gut strengths the individual uses regularly at work. By better understanding the working of their gut strengths and the blind spots that decrease their effectiveness, individuals can improve their performance. In addition by understanding the differences between their own gut strengths and those of others they work with, people can create better working teams and less stressful work environments.

How can one begin to turn his or her blind spot into a strength or advantage?

First, mentally "shift to neutral"-imagine you are driving a car and shift to neutral gear so you can think carefully about where you want to go next. See your blind spot as a choice not a negative. Then develop one or two simple steps to begin to adjust your behavior.

Example: If you're seen as distant and aloof, mark your calendar 3 times a week to circle the office floor and say hello to people. It's the simple steps done consistently over time that make a difference-not a complex assessment and extensive plan. The effort should seem effortless. Little continuous successful steps are the source of big successes.

What are the three steps you suggest one take to gain clear sight into their blind spots?

First, make a model of yourself so you can be objective and neutral in considering your strengths and blind spots. The Blind Spots Profile available at WhatsMyBlindSpot.com is a model available for you to use.

Second, consider new possibilities. Talk with someone you trust about how they see your blind spots. This is a great activity for a group of new managers to do together.

Third, take simple actions. Commit to one or two actions you will take immediately to start moving that blind spot. It's simple action done consistently over time that yields success-not a comprehensive plan and complex assessment.
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