Blind spots that smart people should be aware of

Blind spots are a problem for everyone – not just for smart people. Sometimes one can’t see the blind spots and sometimes one suffers because they are treading the blind spot of someone else.

While everyone pays a price for missing a blind spot, I think smart people pay a bigger price because they refuse to see those blind spots until a heavy price has been paid.

I have picked 7 such blind spots to consider. This is not the entire list but it’s a good start.

1. Being humble at the expense of being proud

Some smart people don’t want to come across as boastful or as a show off. Humility is a virtue that they want to embrace throughout their life. Some take humility to such a level that they forget to be proud of what they bring to the table. Unless there is someone who can shine the light on them voluntarily they might suffer from shortchanging themselves.

2. Being nice at the expense of being honest

Someone comes to them for feedback on a topic that they are an expert on. They think the person is full of it but they want to be nice to the person. So, they try to sugar coat their feedback. On the other side, the person takes only the sugar coating and walks away. They think they helped the person in question but they actually hurt them bad because rather than paying a small price today, the person will pay a big price tomorrow. Being nice is important but not at the expense of being honest.

3. Being critical at the expense of being thoughtful

This is the opposite of what I discussed above. Here, when someone asks them for feedback on a topic, they go ahead and shred what’s on the table to pieces by criticizing the idea and the person and everything surrounding what was asked. They definitely demonstrate their knowledge on the topic. They forget that they have indeed crossed the line by not being thoughtful. They forget that they are dealing with a human being. They prove their point but the damage has been done, sometimes beyond repair.

4. Being short-term focused at the expense of personal growth

Being short-term focused has many problems the big one being loss of an opportunity to grow and increase their capacity. The problem gets compounded when these smart people start winning with their short-term approach leading to an addiction of some sort. Over the years, they have a series of short-term wins with little change in their capacity to perform when it matters most ultimately leading to their downfall.

Note: Longer route does not automatically guarantee capacity expansion. One has to choose the right projects to work on.

5. Being confident at the expense of being open

Confidence comes naturally to these smart people due to their mastery on a certain topic. In most cases, confidence is a good thing as it will help them take risks that most others won’t take. But, confidence comes with its own baggage. When it is taken to an extreme, they become closed minded and develop selective hearing. If any feedback supports their original thought, they are open to listening else they discard the feedback without even processing it completely.

6. Being fast at the expense of moving in the right direction

Average people move at a certain pace making it easy for them to backtrack when something goes wrong. Smart people on the other hand can cover a long distance very quickly. If they are in the right direction, it’s all well and good. The problems begin when they are in the wrong direction. Being confident (see item #5) means they move fast covering lot more ground in a short time. Soon, they have a covered so much ground that going down further would look attractive compared to backtracking.

Please read: Know where you are

7. Making money at the expense of making meaning

When it comes to money, some people enter a virtuous cycle of making money leading to more opportunities to make more money. They make even more money leading to even more opportunities to make more money. They get entry to exclusive clubs that most people don’t even know exist opening up further opportunities to win big. The point is that the circle they move in can keep them very busy with money that they postpone making meaning until it’s too late for it.

Question for you:

What other blind spots have you observed?
(I am interested in the ones that are subtle and easy to miss.)

Photo credit: John K on Flickr.