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How Your Blind Spot Can Be Your Breakthrough

Marisa Murray is a leadership expert and executive coach with three Amazon best-sellers: Work Smart, Iterate!, and Blind Spots. She is CEO of Leaderley International and a TEDx speaker, dedicated to helping individuals and teams achieve superior performance.

Executive Contributor Marisa Murray

Have you ever considered the possibility that your weakness could actually transform into the key which unlocks your potential?

Group of blindfolded business people in the office unable to see the reality.

It sounds preposterous on the surface. Most of us would rather bury our weaknesses. When we get asked the cliché interview question, “What’s your greatest weakness,” we’ve trained ourselves to spin it into an equally cliché positive response: “I work too hard.” “I care too much.” “I can be a perfectionist because I’m so detail-oriented.” And so on.

So for one second, before we dive into the world of the workplace, let’s take a short field trip into the world of film…

Although horror films are not my preferred genre, my sister loves them and she told me about the 2018 horror film A Quiet Place which centers on a family struggling to survive in a world inhabited by ferocious creatures who are blind but equipped with super-sensitive hearing. The oldest daughter in the family is hearing-impaired, played by actress Millicent Simmonds who is hearing-impaired in real life. Throughout the movie, her hearing aid sometimes malfunctions, causing a high-pitched squeal which draws the fearsome creatures to the family, placing them all in danger.

Now, fair warning to anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, but I’m about to deliver a major spoiler alert. So skip the next paragraph if this particular film is still in your streaming queue…

Late in the film, however, while the family is under attack by the creatures, they discover that when the high-pitched noise of the hearing aid is amplified, it becomes a powerful protection against the creatures. What was perceived as a weakness evolves into their greatest weapon.

Likewise, when you discover a blind spot in your life—whether it’s making false assumptions about others, outdated core beliefs about work, differing views of success, or any other blind spot I’ve discussed before—you have two choices:

  1. You can bury it and try to pretend it’s not there—but it will likely only get worse. Or…

  2. You can transform it into a strength.


Lemons to lemonade

The tricky part about blind spots is they are often connected to our strengths to begin with. In my book Blind Spots, I profile a former client Erica (not her real name), who spent time in the military before entering the corporate world. Her work ethic, diligence, and gift for efficiency made her incredibly appealing to her company—and initially, these skills also helped her be very successful.

But over time, conflict arose between her and team members. She felt they were insubordinate, that they should just “follow orders,” whereas they felt she was too demanding and harsh. As a result, she became more frustrated with her team members—and they lacked trust in her leadership skills because they felt she was condescending and belittled them.

During our coaching sessions, Erica came to see she was operating out of a set of Outdated Core Beliefs. She was treating her corporate environment like the military. This led to a multitude of other blind spots—False Assumptions about her team members being insubordinate when really they just wanted to contribute new ideas and Unhealthy Detachment to their feelings. She also had Triggers From Past Pain from her time in the military where decisions were life and death.

One of the tactics we employed in our coaching sessions was a rule that “people need to feel better at the end of every meeting with you.” If they came in feeling neutral or anxious, it was her new mission to make sure they left feeling excited about all of the good work everyone was creating as a team. By taking small actions she updated her core beliefs, and was able to gain the trust, respect, and followership of her team members. 

Once Erica recognized this collection of blind spot “lemons,” she was able to adapt and turn them into professional “lemonade.” She learned to leverage her skills for efficiency and order in a way which also allowed team members to share creativity and safely experiment with new ideas. She was able to transform her “life and death” protective instincts into care and concern for her team members.

To this day, junior people are now asking to work with her because they learn so much from her. They are no longer intimidated or offended by her behaviour, which is a huge win. This has been good for her, too, as the executive leaders are thrilled with how she is helping accomplish the company’s mission.

In other words, many of the blind spot weaknesses being manifested actually evolved into assets once she was able to redirect them through a new lens.

The invisible bridge

As you know, the blind spots left unchecked have the capacity to do more damage to individuals, teams, and organizations than many external forces can. When you make blind spots visible, you take away their destructive power and can then move forward to become a stronger person and stronger organization. 

In this way, blind spots actually become your breakthrough. Before spotting them, they were an invisible barrier. But once they become visible, they can be a bridge to where you need to go.

To use another movie example, think about the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Indy is staring at a wide chasm. At first, it seems utterly impassable. Yet when he scatters some dust out into what appears to be thin air, it exposes a bridge that has been there all along, leading him towards the Holy Grail.

So it is with blind spots. At first, all you can see is the impossibility of the problem—the steep drop. But when you get the right feedback and tweak your perspective, they can become the bridge you need to cross to your own professional Holy Grail—so to speak.

Remember, by their very nature, blind spots are hard to spot on your own. That’s why I’ve made it my mission to help people find them. Time and time again, I’ve seen how finding the blind spot becomes the breakthrough my client has been seeking all along.

In fact, here are the top three results my clients have shared with me after finding—and fixing—their blind spots:

  • 92 percent confirm this process improved their professional relationships.

  • 91 percent say it brought clarity to their vision and improved their impact.

  • 83 percent felt an increase in their confidence, awareness, and effectiveness as a leader.


If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to take the right next steps, I’d like to offer you more support beyond this article:

First, go download a free copy of Questions for Spotting Blind Spots.

I created this tool to remove the guesswork from which questions to ask. With these questions, you can begin the process of both finding your blind spots—and the blind spots on your team. Until you find them, you can’t turn them into a breakthrough.

Second, consider grabbing a copy of my book Blind Spots: How Great Leaders Uncover Problems and Unleash Performance. I share many real-life case studies—like Erica’s story—to show just how common these blind spots are, but also how they turn into breakthroughs. In the book there is also an offer to try click here, a free and automated way to get the feedback you need today.

And finally, I absolutely love working with people who are curious about what they can do better and who are open to the process of finding and fixing their blind spots. If you want to explore what that process looks like, then I welcome you to schedule a consultation with me. Let’s have a conversation to see if it makes sense to work together and see how we can transform blind spots into breakthroughs.


Marisa Murray, CEO of Leaderley, Chief Executive Coach

Marisa Murray is a leadership expert and executive coach with three Amazon best-sellers: Work Smart, Iterate!, and Blind Spots. She is CEO of Leaderley International and a TEDx speaker, dedicated to helping individuals and teams achieve superior performance. Her epiphany that "Blind Spots are the Key to Breakthroughs" inspired the creation of, an AI-powered tool democratizing feedback access. Recognized by Manage HR magazine in the Top 10 Emerging Executive Coaching Companies for 2023, Leaderley serves clientele from the upper echelons of Fortune 500 companies. Through Marisa's writing, coaching, speaking, or 360s—her mission is to cultivate leaders that accelerate positive change.



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