Closing your eyes to risks, challenges, and threats does not make them disappear. Keep your eyes wide open and face whatever comes.
An ostrich is a remarkable bird. It can’t fly, but it can do some pretty amazing things. Its long legs make it the fastest bird on land; it can run at speeds of up to 43 miles per hour.
It can maintain that speed for long distances, meaning that it can outrun even the speediest of predators.
It also has surprising strength. Its legs can deliver powerful kicks at its predators. Ostriches have been known to kill lions with a single, well-placed kick from their powerful legs. Their eyes are two inches in diameter, considered the largest of any land vertebrate, which means that they can see predators from a great distance. They have three stomachs, so they can digest just about anything.
With all these strengths, it would seem that ostriches should be invulnerable to predators, and they generally are. But the ostrich has one weakness that can nullify all its strengths. It thinks that if it can’t see you, you can’t see it.
When trainers at an ostrich farm approach the ostrich, it reacts to them as if they are predators. It tries to run away, but since it is in an enclosed area, it doesn’t get far. It kicks at them, but it can only kick forward so the trainers easily avoid its kicks by approaching it from the rear. It pecks and tries to fight them off—until they slip a small hood over its head, covering its eyes. At that point, the ostrich becomes completely docile and allows the trainers to lead it wherever they want it to go. It no longer tries to fight them, not because it has changed its mind about their being predators, but because it believes it is invisible to them.
There are parallels to this form of blindness in our professional and personal lives. It is tempting to refuse to see potential risks in a given venture. It is all too easy to put unpleasant tasks out of our minds, hoping that they will somehow resolve themselves if we just ignore them for a while. And when “predators” are drawing closer, threatening our position, we may choose to discount or dismiss their advances and close our eyes to the threat they pose. But just because we choose not to acknowledge them does not make them disappear.
The good news is, like the ostrich, we usually already have the tools we need to overcome the challenges, risks, and threats to our success. We simply need to keep our eyes wide open and wisely use all our strengths and resources.
In spite of all our skills and assets, like the ostrich, each of us usually has a blind spot, which can be very dangerous if it remains unknown or ignored.
Are you aware of your weaknesses? How did you learn about them? What do you do to protect yourself from them or compensate for them?
- Often a “cover your eyes” attitude will cause you to deny an eventuality or a likely pitfall. Discuss this with a coach or trusted colleague to discover remedies to use when needed.