The Blind Spot

“You missed a spot”. Four words I dread hearing from my wife. It means I’ve gone a whole day of client meetings or presentations with a tiny patch of hair left on my otherwise freshly shaven head. After two decades of practice, I should be a seasoned manscaper, or headscaper as it were. But, I have a shaving blind spot. It’s the by product of habit. It’s where those two decades of shaving experience actually lead me astray rather than help me succeed. 

We get used to doing the same thing, the same way with time. Like how I’m used to tracing the razor across my head in the same pattern that causes the same miscue. We train ourselves to do things the same way because we become seduced by the same patterns. Everyone has patterns. They keep life functional. They give us a sense of order, make it easier to collaborate, and give our brain a rest. The reprieve that we get from the sameness of our actions can also create apathy though. It can weigh us down as much as it can set us free. It can carve a path or it can carve a rut, paths ugly cousin.

Patterns are made up of two parts; that which is and that which is not. Trace a pattern on paper with a pencil. The pencil lines and the white background both define the pattern. Similarly with music; the sounds of silence between the notes also make up the song. Your blind spot lives in the silence, in the white area. It’s the path not taken, the choice not made. It occupies the space outside of our immediate conscious experience but it influences the outcome with equal force. It’s the yinning to your yanging and it needs your attention for an experience to be truly whole.

The greatest creative minds and the most successful business leaders share one thing in common: They know they have a blind spot. They know that in their knowing, there is so much they don’t know. They understand that their craft is equal parts creation and excavation. They’re willing to question everything, turn it inside out, and try it the other way around. They look at the white space and contemplate the quiet emptiness between the chords. Think Einstein or Ghandhi and contemporaries like Jobs, Wilber and Godin. What often looks like people who are paving new roads is actually people walking the opposite way on streets we assumed only went one way.  If you’re still not sure what I mean, watch Michael Douglas in the film “The Game” and you’ll start to understand how one can make sense out of non-sense.

So, if you’re wondering what your next business zig is, consider starting with a zag. Make your first move an entirely new move. Don’t walk the path. Get a machete and a hack away at an entirely new one; one that goes in the complete opposite direction.  You may learn more about yourself and your business from the things that you’re not doing then the things that you are.