My apartment stinks. What’s worse, I didn’t even know it!
Once my adult son went off to college, I decided to change up my lifestyle. So I rented out the condo I own in the suburbs and decided to find an apartment where it felt like I was on vacation when I came home. The first apartment was excellent and I spent 3 great years there. Eventually the rent skyrocketed so I decided to try a different part of town.
As an excellent strategist, I made a pros and cons list and prioritized my needs and wants. But I didn’t know what I hadn’t experienced. These blind spots have led to 3 terrible years of frustration and significant health issues.
I picked a brand new apartment complex in a trendy area. Yet they wouldn’t let me look at the lease until the day I moved in. The lengthy extra “mold” addendums removing the landlord from all liability was a huge red flag. But what was I to do, the moving van was waiting outside? Sure enough, eight months later I come home from a trip to find a large mold spot on the bedroom floor under the air vent. I then started to hear mold horror stories from other tenants in the same new building.
So I add “what is your mold policy?” to my list of questions as I search for a new apartment. The next place was also brand new, green construction, excellent policy on mold. The first 1-1/2 years were great – then came the roaches. First they made my dishwasher their incubator, then they were in my cabinets, on all my kitchen counters, bathroom sink, walking across the living room floor, and crawling on me when I sat on my couch! The management was excellent. They called in a pest company every time I reported more activity, which meant I had to take everything out of my kitchen so they could spray. Eventually I just left the contents of my kitchen out on the covered porch for over 8 weeks. The company sprayed nine times in three months, always telling me they took care of the problem “this time” and to “not worry” about the chemicals, despite the sinus infections I was getting.
A solution was never found so in cold November I was on the hunt again for a new apartment. I thought I asked all the right questions this time. Nope. A month after moving in I began to have a lot of respiratory issues. Nothing made it better and now five months later my doctor wants me to have a brain scan! My blind spot this time: secondhand cigarette smoke coming up from the apartment below. Looking back, I realized I’d always lived in smoke-free buildings and I’d never thought to ask at this place. The other blind spot: I have almost no sense of smell. Walking in the door I’d get a musty smell, but it would quickly go away. A friend came over last week and commented on how overwhelming the cigarette smoke smell was and I had one of those, “Ah Ha!” moments.
Everyone has blind spots. They appear because we’re in a new situation and don’t know what we don’t know or there’s a weakness we need to take into account. Which of these is true for you?
Hopefully you live in a healthy environment, but what about your business and leadership skills? Maybe the blind spots you have in those areas are affecting your productivity and team dynamics without even realizing it. Successful leaders seek feedback about weaknesses and what’s not working so they can make adjustments to their blind spots.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself and others to pinpoint your blind spots:
1. Who frustrates me the most and why?
2. If I make a list of all their complaints, do they have any valid points?
3. How do I handle feedback?
4. How can I gather more information to see what I might be missing?
5. Am I willing to recognize my weaknesses and keep them in mind when I’m assessing problem situations?