Shining a light on blind spots

The moon on Lake George, NY

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu I learned early on from my coach that you don’t want to rely too much on strength in BJJ when strength is not necessary. The point is that if you rely too much on strength you can get away with sloppy technique when facing against someone of a lesser skill-level. If you only rely on strength, eventually you get “found out” when you face an opponent of greater skill level, or perhaps equal skill but greater strength. This, in a way, covers up the blind spots that could have been identified and worked on early. It takes a mature ego to be able to step back and focus on technique to shine a light on the blind spot. 

Frances Hesselbein, who is profiled in David Epstein’s Rangeis one of the great examples of a mature ego comfortable shining a light on blind spots. Hesselbein didn’t hold a full time job until her fifties, but had numerous life experiences: from raising a family, helping her husband run a business, to volunteering for the local girl-scout troop. After starting her career she has since been CEO of two large organizations. In an interview she said “I was unaware that I was being prepared. I did not intend to become a leader, I just learned by doing what was needed at the time.” In retrospect she can point to lessons learned along the way, but each lesson required a different skill. She did not rely on the same tool for different problems. 

Of course, leveraging strengths is important. Equally important, I would argue, is the importance of not becoming too reliant on the same strengths. Shine a light on the blind spot. If we do not, it will eventually get found out.