The Power Of Blind Spots

March 4, 2024

Discover the power of understanding your blind spots in achieving peak performance. Learn about the two types of blind spots and how to harness their potential for growth and success.

When people express interest in coaching with me, I always ask them what makes them look for coaching right now. The majority want to know about their blind spots.

These CEOs and execs are already ahead of the curve. They’re deeply curious about themselves. When they express interest in blindspots, they understand that their businesses and mindsets are interconnected. They’ve been slowed down by unforeseen people problems, strategic faults, and operational bottlenecks. They often say, with a touch of wistfulness, “If only I could be more proactive in preventing problems, instead of spending my time reacting!”

You may think that coaches will tell you what your blind spots are. While this does happen, an experienced coach helps you learn to do it yourself.

Today, I want to talk about the two different types of blind spots: Unconscious Competence and Unconscious Incompetence. You will learn how blind spots work and how to harness their power. First, we will look at the Four Quadrants of Knowledge.

The Four Quadrants of Knowledge

Conscious Competence

Conscious Competence is knowing what we know. A personal example is driving a car. At this point, you drive a car without thinking about putting your foot on the gas and the brakes. You know that you can drive a car. You hardly doubt your ability to drive.

Let’s look at a work example. If a CEO already has a decade of product experience, she will have strong intuition on whether a feature will appeal to their customers. She knows exactly how to conduct user interviews to find out what the customer's needs are. She knows how to translate that feedback into a product roadmap.

All of us want to get to Conscious Competence. In this quadrant, we feel secure and validated. People look to us as experts in the field and ask for guidance.

This may surprise some of you, but the size of your Conscious Competence is not directly correlated to how much you know. The biggest determining factor is your awareness. In other words, it has something to do with how much we respect and believe in ourselves. I have met many incredible talents who mistakenly put their abilities in Conscious Incompetence or Unconscious Competence. Even when they know, they claim that they don’t know. This leads them to take smaller bets and let fear override their instincts. What if you know more than you give yourself credit for?

In the later paragraphs, we will discuss how to transition the three quadrants into Conscious Competence.

Conscious Incompetence

Conscious Incompetence is knowing what we don’t know. Many people describe feeling fearful but relieved that at least they can work to improve.

The most harmful approach to Conscious Incompetence is making a scary story out of one’s Conscious Incompetence. A first-time founder is aware of her lack of experience working in B2B sales. She tells herself a scary story that the lack of experience will sink their chance of succeeding. This leads her to second-guess herself in pursuing deals. She chokes up when doing pitches and dreads writing follow-up emails. Sales move slower as a result.

Clarity is the key to transforming Conscious Incompetence into Conscious Competence. The empowering angle here is to see the lack of knowledge as it is - a problem to solve. It is not a death sentence. The CEO in the above example can prioritize the importance of that problem and then have a clear set of next steps to tackle it. Conscious Incompetence will inevitably turn into Conscious Competence.

It is also important for you to leave knowledge in this quadrant. With limited time and bandwidth, it is impossible to be the master of everything. Strategically placing knowledge in Conscious Incompetence is a sign of great focus. You can use things in this quadrant to guide hiring decisions so you surround yourself with people who make up for your weaknesses.

To transform this quadrant, work on these reflection questions:

  • What do I know about my opportunities for improvement?
  • What stories do I tell myself about my opportunities for improvement? Separate every opportunity for improvement individually to match a story.
  • If these stories are not true, how would I prioritize these opportunities for improvement from most impactful to least impactful?
  • What is one action I can take toward the top three most impactful opportunities for improvement?

Blind Spot: Unconscious Competence

When we think about blind spots, Unconscious Competence excites me the most. Conscious Incompetence could very well be an Unconscious Competence in disguise. You may think you’re not good at something, but you may be better at it than you realize.

My entire career of executive coaching benefited from claiming my Unconscious Competence. When I started working at Mochary Method coaching world-class CEOs, I doubted I had relevant experiences to resonate with someone leading a tech company. With help, I began to see my life in a new light. While I didn’t think much of it before, I reframed my experience working in the family business as an elementary school kid. I began to see the early training and natural ability in sales, leadership, and business operations. When I worked at my family’s store on weekends and weekday nights after school, I talked to people from all walks of life and connected with them. I helped them find what they needed without sounding pushy. I built relationships. When my mom talked about her new employees forgetting and failing to do tasks, I urged her to write down an onboarding process and operating policies. I was so young when I learned concepts such as business cash flow that much of this knowledge lived unconsciously in my mind. Once I saw my Unconscious Competence in business, I became more confident in my presence as a coach. I stopped doubting if I could connect with entrepreneurs when I had a decade of breathing and living in entrepreneurship in my family.

Transforming Unconscious Competence is seeing yourself in a new light. How do we transform Unconscious Competence into Conscious Competence? It takes the willingness to look and a leap of faith.

One founder had never been a manager or a direct report. All she knew was building companies. So when a seasoned director joined her company, she hesitated to provide direction.

With the willingness to look, I asked if we could review her life and career experience to look for evidence of great management and direction. Specifically, I asked for examples of the most impactful decisions she made. As I suspected, we found dozens of pieces of evidence in under five minutes. When I take coaching sessions in this direction, almost everyone will revel in how powerful it is to be willing to look for evidence of competence.

Once you find evidence that you may have an Unconscious Competence, it is time to take a leap of faith.

What if you can be the best manager for that senior executive you hired?

What if you can lead the engineering function even though this is the biggest team you’ve overseen?

What if you can be great at sales when you’ve never been a salesperson?

Asking these questions takes courage. Following through takes self-respect and compassion. To claim this quadrant, you ultimately have to bet on yourself more than you bet on anyone else.

This is why this quadrant is so powerful. There is limitless power because claiming it is also fundamentally changing the inner dialogue we have with ourselves. Once you get good at it, the domino effect starts - you will not run out of Unconscious Competence you find in yourself.

To work on your Unconscious Competence, reflect on the questions below:

  • What is one success in the past that I took for granted?
  • How did I do that?
  • What qualities and skills did I demonstrate?
  • What if I am really good at [qualities and skillsets]?

Blind Spot: Unconscious Incompetence

When most people say blind spots in an intro coaching call, this is what they mean. They want to know what they don’t know. They may have been ill-prepared to scale up the people function of the company before recruiting became a bottleneck for the company. They may have bottled up their fears and suspected that was causing them to reach burnout.

To transform this quadrant, we first have to move it to Conscious Incompetence. For example, if a CEO wants to find out what they don’t know, I might suggest speaking to their loved ones and close colleagues for feedback. The quality of questions matter. Here are some recommended ones:

  • What do you see me struggle with that you don’t think I’m aware of?
  • What do you think others hesitate to tell me?
  • What am I doing now that you think I’ll regret in the future?

The second way of gaining awareness is by becoming introspective. You can start a ritual to do a quarterly review of your key priorities and decisions to find patterns. You can go to a therapist or a coach to get their help in reflecting on your blind spots.

Mindfulness is a great way to see your blind spots. To gain awareness, we first have to see reality as they are. Mindfulness is the practice of clear seeing. I highly recommend every entrepreneur meditate for at least 10 minutes a day. My go-to meditation app right now is Waking Up, though I’ve also been a long-time user of Headspace and Calm in my over 10 years of meditation practice.

Last but not least, exposing yourself to new information will teach you about your blind spots. You can join or start a peer group with those a few steps ahead of you. You can dedicate time to reading and learning about company building.

Once you move knowledge from Unconscious Incompetence to Conscious Incompetence, you can follow the instructions thereon clarity to eventually reach Conscious Competence.


The Power of Blind Spots answers key questions you’re asking yourself.

Am I on the right path? Did I make the right decision? What am I doing next? Can I be the one to lead this ambitious mission?

It gives us the power to shape our reality and become self-sufficient in declaring where we want to go. If you follow the steps mentioned above to transform your quadrants, you will also befriend yourself while accomplishing your goals. Instead of antagonizing yourself and becoming clouded with fears, you’ve learned to consistently rise above them.

To leave you with homework, create this quadrant for a goal that you have. Ask yourself to write down knowledge and skills in the two conscious upper quadrants. Go through the instructions to find at least one thing to transform in the two conscious lower quadrants.


I have deep gratitude for my energy teacher Jesse Goldmark for teaching me the concepts of conscious competence and unconscious competence. It is with his expert guidance and help that I have pleasantly rediscovered many things I already know. Special thanks to my friend Jingjing Zhong for sending me Sina Meraji’s write-up on Learning Loop’s methodology that I took inspiration from. I’m grateful for Regina Gerbeaux’s nudge on coworking together to write which created space for this piece.

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About Sabrina Wang

Sabrina is the CEO of Evergrowth Coaching for extraordinary leaders of Series A to Unicorn companies. She has quickly grown Evergrowth to over $500K ARR in sales in under 6 months of conception. Evergrowth partners with CEOs, founders, and C-suite execs of best-in-class tech companies. Her clients include CEOs and co-founders of Wayflyer, Synchron, Opswerks, Code States, Tread.io, Tribe, RevenueCat, and more. Sabrina has also coached partners of YC Continuity, General Catalyst, Left Lane Capital, and Innovation Endeavors.

Before starting Evergrowth, Sabrina was the Head of Coaching at Mochary Method, started by Matt Mochary (top CEO coach for Reddit, OpenAI, Coinbase....). She hired, trained, and managed a team that sold 0 to 3m ARR in under a year. Sabrina is well-versed in the engineering, product, and design side of building a tech company. At Headspace for Work, she worked in product management building B2B SaaS products that reached 1 million users.

Sabrina is driven by her mission to help people achieve high performance and find greater impact. Her coaching is heavily influenced by her mindfulness meditation journey, studying Reiki, energy work, and other spiritual modalities.

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