Fifteen years ago this week, my middle son Sam ran in Fairhope's annual Spring Fever Chase. The Spring Fever Chase is our version of the Boston Marathon . . . well not really.
The "fun run" only covers two kilometers but the best part by far is the first two hundred yards when 1,500 elementary school kids sprint like their hair is on fire and then suddenly realize that two kilometers equals 1.6 miles and this is not a "fun run" at all.
A half mile in, most have whipped out their cell phones to direct message a lawyer they found on Yelp who will help them sue the race sponsor for false advertisement.
My son Sam was no snowflake back in 2005. He ran well over the obligatory 2K that day; but it wasn't his choice. In his own words, it was in fact, "All those stupid kids who kept getting in my way."
Sam has never approached life in, shall we say, an orderly manner. He has never colored within the lines, much less run a straight one. He meandered down both lanes of the street, up and down curbs, in front lawns, spent time in the gutter, and even on sidewalks.
He spent more time off the course than he did on. Had it been an officially sanctioned road race, officials would have had to look the other way to verify his results.
Christy and I chuckled over the next five years as we remembered that Spring Fever Chase.
Why did we only chuckle five years, you ask? Let me explain.
Five years later, Christy ran in Disney's Princess Half Marathon. When she finished, I asked her how excited she was when she ran through Cinderella's castle.
"It would have been better," she fumed "if all those stupid people hadn't gotten in my way."
I did not chuckle.
See, Sam and Christy are Enneagram 4s. That means they share a few beliefs in common, such as romanticizing how their races should have played out. Both Sam and Christy envisioned the other racers parting like the Red Sea giving them the right of way to cross the finish line and receive their special medals as confetti rained down to thunderous applause.
Instead, all "those stupid people" crushed their dream and took away what should have been warm and fuzzy sporting memory.
You might say that Sam and Christy are being unrealistic or irrational and that this sort of thing happens in races all the time. In response, Sam and Christy just might lump you into the "stupid people" category.
That's because we all have our biases and blind spots.
And for leaders, knowing yours will help you run the race before you much smoother.
Here are the simple definitions of BLIND SPOTS and BIAS:
Blind spots represent aspects of our personality that may be hidden from our view—such as annoying habits or deep fears—that impact our behaviors.
Biases signify our prejudices FOR or AGAINST certain people, groups, or things.
One of my favorite quotes about our tendency towards bias and blind spots is from Anais Nin:
We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are.
When engineers at Google were creating YouTube, early tests discovered some troubling results. About 10-15% of videos uploaded were rotated 180 degrees. The engineers reiterated to users to try again and urged them to review the proper recording and uploading process.
When the problem persisted, one engineer solved the problem. The 10 - 15% of the videos that were "wrong" were recorded by left-handed users. (About 10 - 15% of the population is left-handed.)
Unconscious bias. We don't mean to think of things in a certain way, we just do. There's no malice in play, it is just layer upon layer of thinking patterns and habits.
The self-aware leader minimizes unconscious bias by being, well, more conscious about people and situations.
Self-aware leaders do the following better than their non-aware counterparts:
(1) Lead change initiatives more successfully. . . because they can navigate tricky waters that might discourage other leaders.
(2) Handle diverse teams skillfully . . . because they understand that the sum of the part is greater than the whole.
(3) Generates innovative approaches . . . because they are not threatened by new ideas or approaches.
(4) Leads teams to engagement . . . because team members feel appreciated and respected.
(5) Make better decisions . . . because allowing opinions and discussion produces accurate data.
I might be biased, but isn't that what you want for yourself as a leader?
Join me this coming Tuesday for a free, live webinar entitled:
Get a Hold of Your Self-Awareness: The Biases & Blindspots that Get in a Leader's Way
I will discuss your Enneagram Type and the blind spots and biases that come with it, as well as ways you can avoid them! You will improve communication, decision-making, and interactions with your team just to name a few of the benefits from attending. Join me--register here!