How to avoid blind spots with either/or choices
When I want to accomplish something, I get to work researching and consulting my gut instinct before I make a choice. Most of the time things work out, sometimes they really don’t. When bright ideas fail, it’s because I overlooked a blind spot in the planning.
Read on for thoughts on avoiding the blind spots in your career path by using either/or choices.
As kids, my siblings and I knew that if we wanted to go to a movie or get Thai food for dinner, we had an “either-or” choice. Either we could ask our father, whose knee-jerk reaction was typical “No”, or we could appeal to our mother who usually responded more positively.
My father wasn’t always inflexible and stern, but he often wasn’t willing to listen either. My mom on the other hand usually had an ear for her kids, was used to fielding requests, and adapting to change.
In high school, I managed my social calendar using either-or logic too. Knowing that if my friends failed to make plans for a weekend outing, I would end up babysitting. So, either I took initiative to suggest using my car and fake IDs to sneak into bars in Georgetown, or I resolved to another Friday night sitting on the couch watching kids, and earning money.
As a teenager, I learned to deal w
ith my less-than-motivated friends by managing expectations. Still, it took a lot of eye-rolling for me to arrive at the question of why they couldn’t just make plans on their own.
Status Quo or A New Menu
The case of either-or turns to Friday evenings with my husband.
We like to cook: a spicy chili, finger-linking-good fried buttermilk chicken, or grill some mean steaks at home. It can be exhausting catering to all of our kids’ likes and dislikes, so we have regular places to order take-out from. Moby Dick’s Kebabs, Pasa Thai’s Pad Thai, and Pad Won Sen…I like to try new things and if I waited for my husband to think of a place, we would end up at the same few places that have a good beer tap list. Sometimes playing Star Wars trivia or the Dogfish 90 minutes shakes up the evening too.
Locating my husband in his office, I suggest that either we suffer through a repeat performance of overcooked noodles … or we throw standards out the window for a dinner of beer and Star Wars Trivia. Of course, he couldn’t resist an IPA-sponsored game night.
As much fun as it is to come up with plans and alternatives, I’m often the one taking initiative. Why isn’t anyone else motivated to find solutions that work for all?
It Won’t Work … Nothing Will Change
Most people don’t like to voice suggestions or take leadership because it involves risk. If the plan doesn’t work, if the solution fails, risking embarrassment (or worse) stops most people from ideation.
It’s safer to wait until someone else speaks up, takes the lead, or hedges the bet. But the cost of playing safe is the chance of having a life-changing experience or even just better food.
Yes, it takes effort to live the life you want! And yes, it’s risky. Bad things might happen. Good things might happen too. Either you keep blinders on and accept what is in front of your face, or risk taking a different career path, dating a new type of person, or ordering from a restaurant that isn’t appealing (even though your spouse loves the food!)
The Blind Spot in Your Career
How does this all relate to careers and jobs?
The evolution of a great career is governed by your threshold for risk and the manner in that you engage (or don’t) in relationships and networks. Networking proactively and putting effort into relationships with people usually have a positive outcome.
You can either learn new skills to stay competitive or you can move to a new industry entirely. Upskilling has less risk, but maybe adapting to a new sector will lead to a more exciting benefit.
People sometimes get stuck when faced with a choice like the one above. The possibility of failure in a new industry is too much, but the thought of staying in the same or similar job is not encouraging. They manage expectations by not deciding until they are forced to by a blind spot.
You Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know
No one is all-knowing or (except a mom) has eyes in the back of their head. So how can you learn to avoid blind spots in different areas of life?
Is it most important to be proactive and to think strategically? Or is having the flexibility to roll with punches more aligned to your risk profile? What if you could be coached into changing your perception of situations and the choices they present?
Coachable people are open to new information – and to making changes as situations shift around them. Being coachable also requires trust; to be receptive and willing when blind spots are pointed out.
The only guarantee in life is that it will change, and choices will follow, whether you can see them or not. I believe that making the effort to learn what they are and take a position is at least a better strategy than doing nothing. Transitions are intrinsic to every area of life. Our career journeys are shaped by how we choose to experience life as it shapeshifts around us.
A successful career, and a great life, are often decided by “either-or” moments. Each time you encounter one, take a breath and call a coach, or someone else you trust to check your blind spots.