Scotoma comes from a Greek word that means blind spot.
You have likely experienced a physical blind spot while driving. You wanted to change lanes so you looked in the sideview mirror to see if a car was coming. Nope.
As you begin to veer into the next lane, you hear an ‘angry’ car horn honking and quickly return to your original lane as the other driver passes you with a ‘are you crazy’ look on his face.
You looked but you didn’t see what was there. That’s a scotoma blind spot.
Read the following sentence: FINISHED FILES ARE THE RE-
SULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIF-
IC STUDY COMBINED WITH THE
EXPERIENCE OF MANY YEARS.
How many letter Fs do you see in this sentence?
A majority of people see three. A smaller percentage see four or five. About 20 percent see six. Although the number of Fs in this sentence is obvious, most don’t see six. Scotoma.
In addition to experiencing physical blind spots like not seeing the car or six Fs, we can also experience psychological, emotional, or social blind spots.
- We might not see the negative thoughts or false beliefs we have that blind us from healthier possibilities.
- We might not see the genuine concern someone has for us when she is providing us with critical feedback.
- We might not see the unhealthy habits in a person because of other benefits we experience in our relationship with him.
- A young child may not see the benefits of trying things when they are hard.
- A teen may not see a parent’s love when the parent doesn’t allow her to text at 3 a.m.
As is obvious in these examples, scotomas are not neutral. If maintained, blind spots have a negative impact on our lives, relationships, and experiences. They will likely limit our success, prevent the development of our potential, and damage our relationships.
Sometimes our scotomas are the result of our choices. What we choose to ignore or avoid often become our blind spots.
What’s the solution? How can we prevent or minimize blind spots? The sideview mirrors in contemporary cars suggest the answer. They include a mirror within the mirror that provides us with a different angle for seeing if something is coming up alongside us.
What can we use as an additional mirror that would allow us to see from a different angle?
- We can take Mark Twain’s advice: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” If we listen to Twain, we can practice a healthy self-doubt by questioning our own thoughts, beliefs, judgments, and conclusions.
- We can change roles.
- As a school principal, can I see a situation from a student’s, teacher’s, or parent’s point of view?
- Can I, Paul, as an older, white male see a situation from the point of view of a young female of a different race?
- We can ask others how they see it. If we are making important decisions without consulting others, we can almost be certain that our decisions will be made with blind spots.
Time to Reflect:
- How have I experienced blind spots in my life and what impact have they had?
- What caused these blind spots?
- What blind spots might I now be experiencing?
- What strategies can I undertake to minimize or prevent blind spots in my life and decision making?
Our health and well-being along with the health and well-being of others are at stake by our ability or inability to detect and avoid scotomas in our life. Maybe our motto needs to be: I don’t want to see it my way or your way but the real way.
Top 20 will be launching our Teacher Development Academy in March. The purpose of the Academy is to support teachers new to the profession so they can thrive and experience more enjoyable careers in education. Click on the link for more information.
Here’s to changing lanes safely until we meet again.
From some of my additional mirrors…Kevin Brennan, Willow Sweeney, and Tom Cody…who help me see from a different angle.
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