In 1957, Vice President, Richard Nixon went to Ghana to celebrate the independence of the West African nation from British rule. At one of the events Nixon approached a black man and asked, “How does it feel to be free?”
The man replied, “I wouldn’t know sir, I’m from Alabama.”
Nixon made an innocent mistake when he assumed the black man he approached was from Ghana. The blind spot was failing to see that America wasn't the beacon of freedom, democracy, and opportunity he was there to represent. In 1957 the legacy of slavery was perpetuated by lynching, Jim Crow, and segregation, all of which undermined the credibility of the United States.
Nixon was suffering from a lack of macro-self-awareness. The story he was telling himself about America was at best only partly true. The blind spot in his narrative created an awkward moment and revealed a big part of the problem African Americans were facing on their own road toward freedom.
It’s easy to look down on Richard Nixon. The reality is we are more like him than we care to believe. We have macro blind spots of our own that drive false narratives, undermine our credibility, and fuel overconfidence.
Macro self-awareness matters. And I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on how to grow it. In this month’s vlog, I share three questions that help me expose and address macro self-awareness gaps. Perhaps you will find them helpful and add a few questions of your own.