One of the challenges many of us have is we don’t always know where we need to grow. Oftentimes, we’re solving for the problem that isn’t. Meaning we think we know the obstacle that’s keeping us from getting what we want. And yet many times I find that what we believe is the obstacle actually isn’t.
One of my all time favorite books is The Road Less Stupid by Keith Cunningham. Keith believes, in most cases, we are focused on the symptom not the real problem. We focus on the effect, not the cause. For example, if you have a headache, you could take ibuprofen. If you’re getting headaches over and over again, and you’re just taking ibuprofen, you’re not addressing the root cause, which is, what’s causing the headache in the first place…
About 10 years ago I attended Landmark Forum and they talked about how all the knowledge in the world really is inside of three different chunks.
1. The things that we know that we know. If I’m standing in front of a group of people and ask who in here knows that they know how to ride a bike? The majority of the room is going to raise their hands.
2. The things that we know, we don’t know. If I asked the same group of people who in here is fluent in Spanish, some will raise their hands, some won’t. So the ones who don’t raise their hands are aware, or they know, that they don’t know Spanish.
3. The things we don’t know we don’t know. I’ll say, can you name something that you don’t know you don’t know? No one raises their hand. The reason we can’t name things that we don’t know, we don’t know is because they hide in blind spots. Here’s why so many of us end up climbing the ladder of success only to find it is leaning against the wrong wall. If the obstacle is hiding in a blind spot, if it’s hiding in a place that we don’t know that we don’t know, how do we bring that into our awareness?
Enter the Leadership 360 Feedback system. The most valuable tool that I have found for this actually came from the book Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith. Every time he takes on a new client he will conduct what he calls a Leadership 360 feedback interview. Essentially, what he does is he takes people whether it’s their direct reports, people they work with in their office or people in their personal lives, and he interviews them. He asks them some very clear questions. What is this person is good at? What are the things that they win? What are their strengths and what are their challenges? One of the questions that I’ve engineered and thrown into this process is, “If you were tasked with taking Sally and her leadership to the next level, what would you have her focus on first?” Another one of my all time favorites is “Where do you consistently see Sally’s audio, what she says, and her video, what she does, out of sync?” This is a really great tool for bringing blind spots into our awareness.
I get emails, text messages, phone calls all the time, from people who are asking me like, What books should I read? Should I attend this program? Should I go to this training? My answer is always the same… I don’t know. What is it that you need to focus on? Where is it that you need to grow in order to take your life relationships, your health, your your business to the next level? Until you can answer that question and have identified the real cause the real issue, then I probably am not going to recommend a program or a book or anything to you because I don’t know what the real challenge is. If you’re reading this and you’re thinking about how do I take my life, my leadership, whatever to the next level, find a coach! Find somebody who’s really skilled at asking great questions. Encourage them to conduct a 360 leadership feedback loop on you. So that you can truly figure out, based on the people who observe you regularly, what their feedback is, and what ultimately gets in your way. Then you can design a growth plan that will truly get you from where you are to where you want to go, which is what I know you want.