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Your Blind Spot is Blinding Me

It has melted cars. Fried eggs. Set fire to carpet and furnishings. And made pedestrians very, very uncomfortable. It’s been dubbed the Fryscraper, the Walkie Torchie, and its concentrated solar power the Death Ray.

And while the public stands agape over the irony that this blinding beam of light could be such a blind spot for the architect or the army of consultants or whomever designed this thing, we would all do well to remember these words spoken long ago…

How can you say to your brother,
“Let me pull out the speck out of your eye,”
when you have a beam in your own eye?
(Matthew 7:4)

This story reminds me all to well that I have my own blind spots. And its possible that I am to others what this building is to cars and sidewalks – too much to bear.

A close friend once told me that everything that came out of my mouth was sarcasm. I thought he, ironically, was being sarcastic. But he wasn’t. He was serious. He said it was so prevalent that it made it difficult to be around me.

My blind spot was blinding him.

I remember disagreeing with him so intently that we parted ways in deep disagreement that night. To me, sarcasm meant being rude and caustic, so I knew that he was wrong – because I wasn’t like that.  But as my anger over my friend’s case of obvious mistaken identity began to subside, I began to see more clearly.

As opportunities arose for me to say something in conversation with friends and coworkers, I found myself catching my breath and remaining silent because the words that were about to emerge were dripping with sarcasm. It wasn’t insulting sarcasm, mind you – it just wasn’t authentic, real conversation. I was staying on the surface with humorous banter and avoiding the opportunity for more authenticity and intimacy in conversation. For days I spoke little, because the well from which my words would spring was labeled Sarcasmo.

It was one of the toughest weeks I’ve ever had. I finally realized that what I had to do was find a new well from which to draw for my spoken word. It was a drastic paradigm shift. One that did not change overnight. But it did change – and only because a close friend chose to expose my blind spot.

We all have blind spots, and we all need friends and colleagues who are willing to expose them for what they are. We need 360-degree reviews at work. We need to listen when our children say, “Dad, you always…” We need to stop thinking that we are above reproach and perfect in the eye of every beholder. We’re not. We’re human. We’re imperfect. And we’re vulnerable when other people know it – but vulnerability is where life begins (preach it, Brene Brown). Admitting you have your own blind spot and relaxing your death ray of judgement on others when you see theirs is a real key in leading, motivating, or just being likable.


Brian Shipman is the CIO of Heritage Auctions – a fantastically unique place to work. Heritage’s mission is to help people successfully acquire or pass on rare and significant objects that have both monetary and soul-stirring value. His job is to create a quality customer experience using the red carpet of technology.

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