Our Blind Spots Literally Make Us ... Blind

Here’s a hard truth: We all have biases. It’s one of the many features of the human condition. Here’s another hard truth: We are blind to our blind spots.

In early October, our seven Initiators Fellows, along with several Initiative Foundation staff members and past and present mentors and Fellows, participated in the Anderson Center’s Inclusive Leadership Forum. This forum, co-presented by an Initiators Fellowship alumni, is a daylong training that follows a Franklin-Covey curriculum on unconscious bias. I have to admit, I’ve been through a couple of these before and wasn’t expecting a lot of Aha! moments. I’m happy to report that I did have some epiphanies, though. The forum and supporting materials were a great reminder of some important awarenesses and provided new insights as well.

Since we are unaware of our unconscious biases, we need training, meaningful conversations, a surprising experience or some other encounter to open our eyes, to help us see what we haven’t seen before or to open new windows of awareness that had been closed off to us.

Implicit Bias

The forum presented several common bias traps—confirmation, anchoring, in-group, negativity, attribution and sunk-cost biases—that everyone falls into from time to time. Learning what each form of bias is and how to recognize these unconscious responses is the first step to developing more useful responses. These biases and others determine how open we are to people who are different from us and hinder our ability to perform at our highest levels. It just makes sense: If we live in an echo chamber and only interact and work with people who think just like us, where is the opportunity for novelty and surprise and the creativity they engender?

This is ME encouraging YOU to take part in this or a similar training if you have the opportunity.

It was great to have current and former Fellows, current and former mentors and key staff all learning and working together on something very important. When we look out and imagine what we want for and from the Initiators Fellowship over time, it’s to develop leaders who support one another and are united in their efforts to help Greater Minnesota communities become more prosperous and welcoming for all.

Contact, Chris Fastner, Initiators Fellowship program manager, at cfastner@ifound.org or (320) 631-2019.