How to Be Blind-Sighted
Earlier this year, in a rugby union match between South Africa and Australia, Koroibete blind-sighted Mapimpi with a try-saving tackle. It had everyone asking, how could this happen to the Springbok’s so-called “try-machine”?
1. False Assurance
Makazole Mapimpi received a pass on the wing, and despite closing defenders it felt academic — he would dive for the corner, plant the ball down, and score.
False assurance is a false sense of security or confidence that can blind us from seeing the truth or potential risks of a situation. It is usually based on inaccurate information, wishful thinking, or simply a lack of awareness. This false assurance can lead us to make decisions that can have serious consequences.
False assurance has the potential to cause significant harm. It is important to be aware of the risks associated with false assurance and to approach any situation with a sense of caution and realism.
2. Confirmation bias to crept in.
“Makazole Mapimpi receiving the ball in space, ten metres from the try line usually means one thing — try time.” Francis, 2022.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs. This bias often leads to blindness, as we can become so entrenched in our beliefs that we fail to consider other possibilities.
Confirmation bias can also creep into our decision-making process, making us more likely to make decisions based on our existing beliefs rather than on the facts. We may be more willing to accept information that reinforces our pre-existing beliefs, and reject information that contradicts them. This can lead to a tendency to make decisions without considering all the available evidence, resulting in a lack of objectivity and potentially leading to poor decisions.
Finally, confirmation bias can lead us to create an echo chamber in which we are only exposed to information that supports our existing beliefs. We may be less likely to seek out information that counteracts our beliefs, or to consider different perspectives. This can result in an inability to think objectively, and can lead to an unwillingness to consider alternative points of view.
3. Going for a moment of glory and forgetting your team
Mapimpi’s teammate was just to his right. And, yet, he didn’t pass the ball. Everyone was focused on Mapimpi, the Springbok’s “Try Machine”, and a short pass to #15 would likely have resulted in a try for South Africa. So, why didn’t Mapimpi pass the ball?
“Do you see the consequences of the way we have chosen to think about success? Because we so profoundly personalize success, we miss opportunities to lift others onto the top rung…”
Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success
In competitive environments, it can be tempting to try to go for a moment of glory and forget about your team. While there may be some short-term gains, the long-term costs of this approach can be significant.
When someone goes for a moment of glory, they often lose focus on the team’s objectives. Not only that, but they also lose awareness of everything else around them. Like a horse with blinkers on, their ‘one-track mind’ shuts out their situational awareness including their team… and the other team.
4. Lose awareness of everything around you and ignore the signs.
Ignoring the signs is a common way that we can be blind-sighted. We often fail to recognise the signs that something is not right or that a situation may be dangerous. This can be especially dangerous in situations where there is a potential for harm, such as in the case of financial scams or physical danger. It is important to remain vigilant and be aware of any potential risks in any given situation. Paying attention to the signs can help us to identify potential risks and to make informed decisions.
“We need to look at the subtle, the hidden, and the unspoken.”
5. Make up an explanation for an event that fits your agenda
“Whatever anyone thinks, head on the wrong side… again. This happens almost every game.”
Sam Warburton on Koroibete’s tackle.
Making up an explanation for an event to fit one’s agenda can lead to blindness and a lack of objectivity. It can be tempting to look for evidence to support our own beliefs, rather than to objectively consider all the facts. When we do this, we are more likely to make decisions based on our own biases rather than on the available evidence. This can lead to poor decision-making and a lack of awareness of potential risks. It is important to approach any situation with a sense of caution and to consider all the available evidence before making a decision.
To avoid this, some experts suggest actively looking for evidence that disproves your assumptions. Ensuring that we disassociate inferences with observation is vital for objectivity in your evidence collection. Check out this table as a starting point:
Furthermore, rather than develop an explanation for something that can’t be or wasn’t observed, ditch the assumption or inference for more tangible evidence; actual observable proof.
“We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem. We’re a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don’t really have an explanation for.”
Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
In short, in order to avoid being blind-sighted, it is important to be aware of our own biases and to approach any situation objectively. To do this, we need situational awareness and to consider all the evidence before moving forward. We must actively seek out evidence that disproves our assumptions and look for tangible proof before making decisions… especially decisions that involve other people.