How to spot the little mistakes you don’t know you are making

Hi there!

In today’s post I want to talk about how you can spot the little mistakes you don’t know you are making.

They are the cause of the Dunning Kruger Effect, when you assume you are better than you really are.

When you are able to spot the little mistakes you don’t know you are making, and finally find them and fix them, then you get a breakthrough.

So in this post what I want to discuss is:

  • Your Blind Spots
  • Radical Openness
  • The Ego Barrier
  • Emotional Intelligence (to deal with your anger when you get brutal negative feedback)

This lesson will show you how you can improve dramatically by finding what makes you imperfect, and improving it.



YOUR BLINDSPOTS

In his book principles, Ray Dalio talks about your blind spots.

Blind spots are all of those things you don’t know about yourself, but that everybody else knows about you.

For example: 10 years ago, if you asked me if I was good at listening people, I would say: “Of course! I am a great listener!”

And that would be the truth. I have a lot of empathy for people. I was raised Catholic, and my parents taught me to always help other people when possible.

And of course, one of those things is listening to their problems.

So if you asked me if I was good at listening, without a doubt, because of my religious backgrounds, I would say yes, and I would be telling the truth.

Here is the tricky part. If you asked my closest friends and family, they would say: “No, he is terrible at listening”.

And they would also be telling the truth.

How come?! How can we both be telling the truth if we are saying opposite things?!

Here is how.

Because of my blind spots.

There was something about me that I didn’t know about myself. I honestly thought that I was good at listening because of my other virtues, high empathy for other people, even strangers. So, I just assumed that I was good at listening, but that was not the case.

You see, if you started talking to me about something, I would instantly start thinking about a solution, interrupt you and then spend then next 10 minutes telling you how to apply that solution, all without even really understanding your problem, and often, giving you the wrong solution.

Or, if I thought your problem was boring, then I would just interrupt you and start talking about an exciting project I was working on.

But I didn’t know this! When I saw people interrupt other people, I would think they were so rude.

So, when my friends told me the truth, I got a bit upset, because there was no way I was that rude! Just no way!

But reality was there, and my blind spots where there too, covering that from me to see. It was all covered by my good intentions.

You see, good intentions are not enough, you need feedback.

In drawing, many students are making mistakes they can’t see, they have the intention of becoming better artists so they assume they are improving.

But that intention is not enough. Even if they are super honest with themselves, they can't spot the mistakes they are making because they either don’t have the expertise to see them, or they are too proud, too sensitive or too stubborn.

But you should know, honest feedback, even if it feels bad, helps you grow, because it helps you expose your blind spots, it helps you spot the mistakes you don’t know you are doing.

The only way to be able to take that feedback is with:


RADICAL OPENNESS

This is when you are willing to accept bad news in order to grow to become a better version of yourself.

But, to really be open, you first need to want to improve.

Some people are doing this just for fun, and that is totally cool.

So if you are drawing just for fun, then you don’t really need feedback, or waste any energy in finding your blind spots, all you need to do is find things that help you have some fun.

But if you want to improve and get to a better version of yourself, you need to get serious.

You need to be willing to sacrifice a little bit of fun to achieve difficult goals.

Negative feedback is not a fun thing to have. To really learn from it, you need radical openness.

Radical openness is when you are willing to have someone tell you what they really think of you, with no filter, without holding anything back.

This is very hard to accomplish emotionally, because to be honest, having someone telling you the hard truth is terrible.

The bible says: “The truth will set you free” and I totally agree with that.

And in our context, it will set you free of your blind spots.

Now, Mo Gawdat in his wonderful book “Solve for Happy” says: “The truth will set you free, but first, it will piss you off”

And that is, I believe, a more accurate description of what happens.

Yes. You have no idea how angry and upset I got when my friends started telling me that I was a terrible listener when I complained about people who didn’t listened to me.

I got so angry that I was even thinking of ways to spend less time with them, since they had this terrible perception of me, that was obviously not the "true me", I was a very kind and empathetic person, not someone who doesn’t listen to people!

But, of course, this was just my ego barrier protecting me from harm.


THE EGO BARRIER

The ego barrier is a psychological construct created by the mind to protect you from harm.

It helps you survive, it keeps you from feeling uncomfortable.

It is a useful model for surviving in this world.

Well, surviving the psychological part of your life at least. It prevents other people from manipulating you.

The ego is a good thing to have, but when it grows out of proportion, it will become an ego barrier that will turn you into a non-learner.

Someone so proud and so arrogant that will refuse to acknowledge the imperfections he has, in order to keep this fantasy alive about being perfect.

This is a terrible thing to have.

How do you know if you have an ego barrier that is not letting you grow and improve?

If your emotions start to raise the moment you get honest negative feedback from people, then you should know that your EGO BARRIER has just been activated.

Now, don’t be alarmed, we all have an ego barrier.

I still struggle to get honest feedback from my team when I make huge mistakes.

I am open about it, and that is helping me grow everyday, but what Mo Gawdat says is true: “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off”.

Yes, I am open about it, and I do want to grow, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get pissed off.

I still get upset, and I still sometimes have to be in silence because if I let my mouth give into my animal instincts I will be insulting others.


EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

A rule we have here in 2DAnimation101 when working as a team is:

If you feel anger, be angry, let the anger go through your whole body and feel it. Feel the anger. Feel it.

We are all human beings, we have feelings and emotions, we can feel sad, happy, angry, upset, embarrassed. Hey! We are not robots. We are not a shoe or a plastic bag. No, we are humans, and we have emotions.

So, feelings are totally allowed. BUT! We are not allowed to do or say harmful things.

Respect is key.

So, when I feel angry, I just let my anger go through my whole body and I say.

“Wait just a second, I got super angry.”

Then I breathe.

After that I am able to keep talking like a decent person.

I am still super pissed off, but I am able to speak without harming anyone or insulting anyone.

I can then be open and ask questions to find out more about how I messed up.

It still pisses me off, but I know I will feel better in 20-30 minutes.

Now, I am writing this, and maybe you can picture me in this angry state, and think: “Oh, ok, so if I get negative feedback and I get upset, I just say that I am upset, and then breathe. Ok. Got it!”

NO!

It’s easy to read and understand, but it is super difficult to do.

When Gandhi was told that his movement for independence in India, the Satyagraha, was a "passive" revolution that involved peace, Gandhi got a bit upset.

He said that yes, it was a peaceful revolution, but it was not passive at all!

He insisted that it was way easier to give into anger, and let the blood in your brain control you and become violent, just letting yourself give into your animal instincts.

He said that was extremely easy.

But to control your actions while you were super angry, was super duper hard!

And it’s true!

It is not passive at all.

Now, I am not suggesting avoiding the feeling of anger.

No.

When you say that you are not angry, or don't let yourself be angry when your ego is attacked, you harm yourself and your health decreases over time until it develops into a cancer or something similar.

So I am not suggesting avoiding feeling angry.

But what I am suggesting is to let your anger run through your body, feel it. You are human and you are allowed to be angry.

Just don’t let your anger take control. Feel it and let it be there, but, expose it!

THAT'S THE KEY! Expose your anger! Say that you are angry.

Tell the other person that you feel upset because you thought you were doing a good work.

Say: "Thank you for telling me this, I really appreciate it because I can now improve, but I am just upset because I thought I was better at this"

Be open, be honest.

You will still be angry, but just remember, this is the cost of freedom. This is the price you pay for growing and becoming a better version of yourself.

You get upset, but then you are free.

You become free of your blind spots and you can clearly see the truth, and from there, you can improve until you become awesome.

Just remember, “the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off."

In my experience, the anger dissipates in around 20-30 mins.

I don’t know your temper, maybe for you it can take less or maybe even more, but 20-30 minutes is a good number.


IN CONCLUSION:

If you are doing this just for fun, then you don’t need to apply any of this s**t

(spit! ha! You thought I said shit! right?)

You can just do whatever you like and enjoy every second.

But for those of you who want to make money from this in the future, or at least, become so good they can’t ignore you, then you need to know that some fun has to be sacrificed.

Why? Because getting negative feedback is not fun.

For that you need to really be open.

It’s a requirement for growth.

You need radical openness to find your blind spots, understand that when you get angry is just your ego barrier protecting you, don’t listen to your ego, and be open, take the feedback, listen and learn.

I have said it many times, and I want to say it one more time: “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off”

Take the feedback, be angry about it.

You are allowed to feel upset, but just let the feedback hit you like a train, breathe and then, you will be free to grow.

I really hope you grow into the best version of yourself you can become, and I wish I can meet you in person one day.

Take care,
Mark