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Blind Spots


Blind spots. We all have them. It’s a matter of whether we choose to recognize them. And then, if and what we decide to do about them.


It’s as much a metaphorical statement as a literal one, but I’d like to focus on the latter first. Recently, I received an offer from my auto insurance company to reduce my policy rates by agreeing to have a device placed in my car that tracks me while I drive. After measuring my braking, acceleration, speed, cornering, and phone use, I would receive a rate discount that was commensurate with my personal driving tendencies.


While looking at that list of categories being tracked, I was most concerned about one in particular. Can you guess which one it is? Acceleration, speed, cornering, and phone use are all choices that are directly and completely within my control. I couldn’t be forced to accelerate too quickly, speed too fast, corner too abruptly, or access my phone while driving. I would have to make a conscious choice to violate the allowed limits in those categories. Braking, however, is an entirely different animal. If another driver pulls out in front of me, if an animal darts across the road, if a traffic signal changes at that exact moment where a split-second decision is necessary. All these circumstances are more or less outside of my control, thus impacting the perceived proficiency in that category. So, yeah, braking was the only category that presented a problem for me, and it was easy to blame those things beyond my control for the less-than-ideal results.


That’s where we make a U-turn and veer off road, using the driving vernacular. Let’s move from the literal to the metaphorical interpretation of blind spots. They occur when our thoughts don’t align with reality. We think that what we know is the truth, but that knowledge is heavily influenced by our past experiences. This problem I had with braking was a real thing. It was a habitual pattern that I had developed over many years of driving (probably encouraged by the type of car I drive), and I chose to selectively ignore the opinions of other people with the knowledge that I was certainly right. I mean, I’ve never been involved in any sort of traffic incident. Isn’t that proof enough that I’m a safe driver?


We already know the answer to that question. Yes and no. Yes, my record has been spotless and safe. No, because there’s always risk when continuing unsafe behaviors, and there’s always room for improvement. That goes for both the literal and metaphorical interpretation of those blind spots.


I realized something about braking that relates to my daily life. It’s easy to be in a rush to get somewhere without speeding or excessive acceleration, hyper-focused on arriving at our destination. Perhaps we sometimes ignore the space between us and any obstacle that keeps us from reaching our destination. And when we do, it’s easy to get into a mode of needing to brake or evade said obstacles in an unhealthy or unsafe way. We fail to see all that’s going on around us because we’re so concerned about what’s directly in front of us. What if we were to back off, just a bit? What if we allowed ourselves more space to process, think, and react to that which is between us and where we’re aiming to go? I suspect that those driving scores would improve dramatically. But even more importantly, we might just find the space, time, and ability to better see our blind spots and make adjustments that allow our journey to be more fulfilling than we ever imagined it could be.

 

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