During my graduate school days I once developed the habit of exercising (few push ups and jumping jacks) throughout the day. I was having class in the evening at school and sometimes I would go straight from work to school. The exercise was mild, and I did not usually break a sweat since it was just designed to keep blood flowing through me and prevent me from getting too stiff staring a the computer screen the whole day. Since the exercise was mild, I didn’t ever feel the need to take a shower or freshen up before getting to school from work.
I never realized how stinky I was until one day a close friend approached me, drew me to a corner and said:
Friend: Lionnel may I tell you something?
Me: Yes, go ahead.
Friend: Are you coming from the gym?
Me: No. Why?
Friend: It’s as if you forgot to take a shower. You stink.
Me: Is it that bad?
Friend: I could perceive it so what do you think?
Me: Thank you for letting me know. Now I don’t feel like going up to class anymore.
Friend: Don’t worry, let’s go to class. Just make sure you don’t hug anyone else and you take a shower next time.
I could not smell my own stinkyness. That was a blind spot. Something I was too close too to realize it could be a problem to others around me. I felt horrible when I realized I was so stinky that the smell was a nuisance to others around me. At the same time I felt grateful that there was someone who cared enough about me to draw my attention to something I was responsible for that was not good for me and for those around me.
None of us are perfect beings, and in our imperfection, we all need someone around us to watch our blind spots for us. And to care enough to let us know when there are things we might be doing that are potentially detrimental to us. It could be anyone from the circle of people we associate with: friends, family, colleagues and even acquaintances.
Who is watching your blind spots?