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How To Discover And Fix Your Blind Spots

Written by: Frank Spevak, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Recently, while driving on a 3-lane interstate, I was cruising along in the middle lane. Traffic was really light. Then someone got on the highway and proceeded to change lanes and drive into me. I slowed down and honked. For some reason they honked too.

My wife and I were meeting some friends for lunch. It was about 18-19 miles away and the fastest way to go was on the highway. The day was sunny, the snow had been melting because of warming temperatures. Way better than the -22 degrees Fahrenheit the week before.

Here is the kicker I drive a Dodge Charger, and it is red. REALLY, REALLY RED. Brighter than fire engine red. When I first saw it in the dealer’s lot, I was wondering how many speeding tickets came with it. So, it isn't like they can't see me.

But no harm no foul. We did follow the other driver and saw that they were weaving and crossing both lines on their left and right. Signs of distracted driving. But certainly not looking around for potential problems.

We had a lovely lunch at a friend's country club with great company. But on the way back home I was nearly run off the road into the center gulley between the divided 4-lane road. This one was much more serious, and I am not sure how neither of us swapped paint. Someone not paying attention decided to move into my lane because there was a truck in theirs. I am used to this on the motorcycle, people not looking around, but ‒

Again, you can't see this RED sports car?

So, the lesson is, to check your blind spots and pay attention to the task at hand. And this is the business lesson.

There are approximately 242,000 sideswipe accidents reported each year. They are caused by inattention. Even with all of the new driver-assist features that are being put into cars, it accounts for almost 700 of these types of accidents each day. A failure to look around and see the whole picture. But we ignore them because they warn us ALL the time. If someone is passing in the next lane it goes off. Whether there is a threat or not. We tune the warnings out. And maybe because we aren't paying attention to the task.

Your business could be humming along just fine. And then you find yourself trying to stay out of the ditch.

Chances are the problem has been there all along, but you tuned it out because it has been there a while and you aren't paying attention to it. Business owners always need to check for blind spots for themselves and their business. Is there approaching danger? Are you moving into danger?

Occasionally ask yourself, what am I missing? What am I not seeing?

In a car, the simple solution is to turn your head and not rely solely on the mirrors. But for your business, you will need to turn to others. Ask others if they see something in the business or in you that needs some correction or adjustment. We all have them. And it doesn’t matter if it is a Fortune 500 company, an Inc. 5000 company, a non-profit, or a local diner.

A recent study in Canada found that 71% of small business failures was based on management issues. These failures come from both financial and general management issues. The biggest problems with financial management are the inability to manage working capital and under-capitalization.

Almost half of the companies surveyed (49%) had a lack of managerial vision, which eventually led to their downfall and bankruptcy.

We can be blind about some of our employees, about our competitors, about our product offering, and to some of our own abilities. We can be complacent, or we can ignore some of the small warning signs because they happen all the time.

Checking your business blind spots requires the other person you are talking to is completely honest, and for you to listen, not just hear what they have to say.

And business owners can easily get distracted. Sometimes we want the distraction. A few business owners that I know feed on the emergency. They drop everything they are doing and get in there to slug it out. They do it even when there are capable people, that they hired, whose job it is to take care of the situation.

Some emergencies can be great opportunities, like getting an order for 130,000 shipments that have to go out tomorrow. When you are in that kind of emergency, you can lose track of making sure your systems are ready and capable of those kinds of orders, instead of just printing off shipping labels at home all weekend long.

An emergency can be thrilling, and action-packed because you feel like “now I am actually doing something.” But in reality, you were really doing something when you were studying problems and developing solutions. Use the Eisenhower boxes and ask the following Is it urgent and important? Is it important but not urgent? Is it urgent but not important? Or is it not urgent and not important. Then overlay that with whether YOU really need to do it or if it can be delegated.

Here are some exercises on how you can actively work to find and fix your blind spots.

First and foremost, you must be open to change. If you are going to ask and then get the advice you need to have the courage to make changes that you are not comfortable with. As the saying goes, if you really don't want the answer, don't ask the question.

Dedicate time for some self-reflection. Am I the right person to take this to the future? Am I open to ideas to improve? Am I open to shutting something down?

Who are you taking advice from? You may have a group of friends that you regularly talk to, maybe on the golf course or at social events, and they may be people you trust, but if they are not business savvy, it can cause more harm than good.

Find someone who has business skills and understanding to talk with you intelligently. If you are part of a business network, meet up with a few to gauge their ability to listen and ask probing questions without giving you the answers. If you are part of an industry association, talk with some of your competitors who are in different markets and see about setting up a partner group or thinking group. Hire a business coach to work one on one. Take part in a coach facilitated partner group or mastermind.

Within your business, you can conduct round tables with your leading employees. The difficulty of this is that some of your employees may be reluctant to be totally honest. You can use an outside facilitator such as a business coach or consultant to run the meetings and work with you after to calibrate what was said and how to move forward.

This doesn't mean that you have to have the feel good, trust fall, type of retreat. But a dedicated time, no calls, no emails, no distractions, to openly address the issues affecting your organization.

Make a list of major goals and objectives you had at the beginning of last year. Then after each, markdown a number based on a scale, 1 not done to 5 done, on whether the goal was achieved. Then take your list and make sure your name isn't on it and show it to others you respect and say that these are responses from a potential job candidate. Then ask what they think of this person based on the evaluation.

As Ray Dalio says, "trust in radical truth and radical transparency."

The ability to find and fix blind spots gives you the real opportunity to ensure your personal success and that of your business.


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Frank Spevak, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Frank Spevak helps entrepreneurs improve productivity, increase profit, and achieve peace of mind for themselves and their business by evaluating their business operations, and maximizing brand and marketing opportunities.

It all started when Frank realized that street smarts and luck can carry you only so far. Formal education doesn't necessarily mean that you learn the lessons of running a successful business.

Frank's success comes from his passion for lifelong learning. That lifelong learning has helped him in the company after company, to build business strategies and innovation programs to take companies to the next level. Coming up through the ranks of sales and marketing developed a deeper understanding and the importance of creating a strong brand and comprehensive marketing programs to ensure success for the business and the owner.

Before running his own business, Frank was a senior executive and worked as Chief Marketing and Sales Officer of a successful multi-million-dollar technology manufacturing and distributing company in Minnesota. Nowadays you’ll find Frank writing, speaking, and riding around the country on his Harley–all while coaching, serving clients, and providing practical and buzzword-free learning.



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