The Blind Spot


Johari Window

I’ve spent more and more time getting to know one of my clients who has now become one of my friends. We’ve never discussed her IQ but I know she’s a genius. Her intelligent quotient is so high I can feel the energy of the numbers.

Since I’ve been around her more lately, I have also begun to see the other side of her – the side she is probably unaware of. What I have noticed -most notably in genius’s- is that the depths of their minds and their capability to learn and understand the most complex of ideas is astounding. However, It seems because they are wired for these more complicated and advanced ideas, they are often less capable of comprehending and accomplishing easier tasks. They lack in other areas which often make them appear absent minded, unorganized, or less than smart. 

If the average person were to see only the blind spot of a genius at any given time, they might miss the most amazing and beautiful part of that individual. I’m a Gemini so I’m obsessed with the mind. In my teaching, I often refer to one of my favorite minds; Albert Einstein. 

Einstein didn’t begin speaking until the age of four and he never learned how to drive a car. If one had observed only this side of Einstein and judged him based solely on this side of him, they might never have been able to recognize or appreciate his brilliant side.

In thinking about the different aspects of our personalities I thought back to a college class I took many moons ago. It was a speech class and the professor’s name was Chris. Professor Chris first introduced me to Johari’s Window and I’ve been intrigued (and obsessed) with human behavior ever since. 

The Johari window is a technique used to help people better understand their relationship with themselves and others. It has been used as a communication model to improve understanding between individuals and groups. It is used primarily in self-help groups and corporate settings as a heuristic exercise. The Johari window was created by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in 1955. I have focused on quadrant 2 of their model which is referred to as the blind area. In this model the blind area refers to that part of ourselves that we cannot see but others can see.  

I remember sitting in professor Chris’ speech class 33 years ago and feeling surprised by this and a little scared to think about the fact that there were people who didn’t know me but who had the ability to see a part of me that I couldn’t see for myself. It is for this reason that I have been driven for most of my life to see and know myself fully. 

I would like to believe that the intensive work I’ve done over the last 36 years (with a very heavy emphasis on the last 18) has revealed all those, perhaps unsavory things once hidden from me. I want to believe that we can get to a place of such a heightened self awareness (and spiritual evolvement) that we can see and know all parts of ourselves. It is my belief that only when we can see ourselves totally that we can really arrive at our most authentic self. 

To remove the blinders and see ourselves fully takes an enormous amount of work. The work isn’t easy and it doesn’t always feel good. In order to really see ourselves and to be aware of our own behavior and personality traits, we must first be willing to see these things.

When working with others using the Johari window as a model for self discovery in a group, we open ourselves up to feedback. The process of soliciting deep and serious feedback relates to the process of self actualization.

Sometimes what we discover is a very beautiful part of ourselves that others have seen all along. Being aware of positive aspects of ourselves gives us the ability to connect more deeply with our own brilliance. Brilliance and blind spots are only a few of the things we have in common. The flaws we see in others can also be found in ourselves. None of us are excluded from having a blind spot. 

We all have a brilliant side and we all have the unknown side -the side of us only others can see -the side we will never get a chance to know if we are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. People who tend to have the biggest blind spots are those considered to be “thick-skinned.”  

Some of us are unwilling to ask questions about ourselves because we aren’t interested in the answers. Answers bring about change and some people lack the desire, ability or the courage it takes to make these changes. If you are one of those individuals who has chosen to avoid the self discovery route, please at least consider this the next time you find yourself judging others: you may be seeing their blind spot. If this is the only side of them you are seeing then you are missing out on their brilliance. And like the quote goes… “A wise person knows he can learn something from everyone.” 

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