Is There a Safety Cone in Your Tree?

The other day a friend and I were walking around Lake Harriet and all of a sudden I stopped. Something weird caught my eye. Something was not quite right.

I looked up, and this is what I saw.FullSizeRender-32

So many questions!

Who? Why? How come?

And did anyone else notice, or just walk by, oblivious?

It made me think of a talk at the Global Leadership Summit and wonder how many cones are in my tree that I’m unaware of.

Every year at the GLS it seems that the Holy Spirit does a work of weaving together content from different speakers, and for me, a theme usually emerges. This year, the one that was most profound and relevant was the importance of seeing our selves more clearly – our strengths and weaknesses.

Bill Hybels kicked off the Summit talking about the intangibles of leadership and one of those is this self-awareness.

The idea of a 360 degree view of ourselves seems good in the abstract, right?  But we all have blind spots. You know…cones in our tree that we’re unaware of.  Hybels says we average 3.4 blind spots. 

Ouch! Where did he get that number?? The fact that I can’t identify 3.4 blind spots in my life means that…well, they’re BLIND spots! (AND there isn’t just one cone in my tree, but 3.4 cones! Lord have mercy!)

Sheila Heen, another speaker at the Summit, shared a secret that will open our eyes to those blind spots: FEEDBACK.

“Feedback comes at the crucial intersection of the desire to grow and the desire to be respected.” Sheila Heen

Heen identified three types of feedback:

1. Appreciation (this is the first to get neglected). “You may have a cone in your tree, but you’re strong, and your leaves are really green.”

2. Coaching – anything that helps you get better. Craig Groeschel in his talk on expanding your leadership capacity reinforced the importance of this, encouraging leaders to improve competence – decide on an area to grow and get help. “Here’s how to consider getting the cone out of your tree.”

3. Evaluation – where you stand (this is the most emotionally “loud” type of feedback). “This is what your cone looks like and how it’s holding you back.”

In order for this to be effective, we need to learn to be a receiver of feedback.

So, solicit feedback.  Ask:

1. What’s one thing you appreciate about me?

2. What’s one thing you see me doing, or failing to do that you think should change? (Hybels framed the question this way: What don’t I do well?)

If you’re married your spouse might be good to ask #2. Or not 🙂

The importance of self-awareness isn’t a new idea.

Prov. 20:28 “Love and truth form a good leader…”

I like the “love part”. But how am I seeking the truth to see the cones I’m missing? How are you?

If you want a great article on handling negative feedback, look here.



  1. Thank you for sharing this Laura. Great message presented in a beautiful way. may God continue to give you the will, energy and wisdom to always share these posts.

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