The trappings of tunnel vision – and how to get round it


The other day when I was walking home from a dinner, I stopped close to where I live to answer a text on my phone. I was so absorbed in what I was doing I was unaware of a moped that drew up alongside me. I looked up to see two riders all dressed and helmeted in black and as I began to notice the oddity of the situation, the passenger grabbed my phone out of my hands and then the bike pulled away and off down the road.

It was an odd feeling – immediately a kind of helplessness, followed by a sense of violation, and then by anger. I cursed them.

The event made me reflect a bit. To allow this to happen, my attention was very tightly focused on my phone to the exclusion of anything else. I was a sitting duck – and I did not have my periphery or wider awareness switched on. It reminded me of the many people I see each day walking around often narrowly avoiding collisions, because they are so engrossed in the little screen.

And that in turn conjures up how in business, short-term pressures have led so many executive teams to make decisions with immediate reactionary effect but with long term detrimental consequences – it’s another version of the preoccupation with the little screen; we are losing our peripheral vision.

If you feel you’re falling into tunnel-vision mode, here’s a simple solution you can try:
Give yourself a moment to step away, breathe, occupy space, look at the horizon and come out from that narrow field of vision. Then you’ll see things with more clarity and have a better chance of hearing your inner wisdom, your inner knowing. It is about being able to sense what is about to come next by consciously tuning into that wider vision. This way you can avoid those feelings of frustration and helplessness and so move forward in the flow of things with more ease.

I’m curious what experiences you are having in this respect. Are you being pulled away from the wider view, and what effect is it having on you personally and on the business you’re in? How much is tunnel vision getting in your way and how much is it actually detracting from your overall effectiveness?