Posts Tagged ‘relaxation’

Time For a Change #3: The Trap of Tunnel Vision

by William Reed on February 23, 2012

A common trap in thinking about goals is tunnel vision, or single-minded pursuit of a goal. It is defined as “recklessly determined to do something at any cost,” or hell bent, which should give you an idea of its destination.

While this may be the only way out for a cornered rat, it is no way to live your life. And yet we see it over and over again with consequences such as burn out, chronic fatigue, and high-speed collisions along the career path. Tunnel vision is like being in a rut and on steroids. The destination is fixed, and everything else is sacrificed in its achievement.

Horse-drawn carriages usually featured blinders to keep the horses from being distracted by things to the sides of the road. While it would feel strange for a person to walk around with blinders on, many people walk through life with mental blinders.

This shows when the eyes have a very narrow field of vision. Such a person will pass you by on the street without noticing you, entirely caught up in their own world. In extreme cases you see it in the eyes of the terrorist, fixed in one direction and to one purpose. You can get a sense for a person’s field of vision by looking at a photograph of the face. Hold the picture in front of your face, and move it slowly to the side. You can sense the moment that you leave their field of vision. Do the same thing with a portrait painting or photograph mounted on the wall. In works of genius, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the eyes seem to see you wherever you stand, a testimony to the Master’s all encompassing field of vision.

Loosen the tension around your eyes, particularly when you think about your goal. You may discover an easier way to achieve it, and a gentler way to approach it.

Recover your rhythm

Have you ever worked in a fixed posture for hours without break? If you work like this at a computer, work with your hands in small area, or even driving a car, your nerves and muscles become fixed to the task, and you experience a physical form of tunnel vision. If you do this too often then the tension itself can become chronic. Physical activity can help, but unless you change your mindset the tension will quickly return.

The first thing in recovering your rhythm is to increase your awareness. There are four elements you can check in your mindset, which are summarized in a Mandala Chart that you can download here entitled Recover Your Rhythm.

  • Check Yourself. Part of the tunnel vision trap is being so focused on your goal that you become blinded to your own tension and behavior. Becoming aware of tension in and around your eyes is the first step to releasing it. Single minded goal pursuit also reveals itself in conversation, being fixated on a single topic. Keep an eye on how you spend your time, so that your days are not dominated by a single activity.
  • Check Others. We can learn about ourselves by observing others, and the influence that they may be having on us. Seek out the company of broad minded people. Encourage other people to talk about their goals and it will help you find perspective on your own. Maintain a flexible perspective to avoid picking up the tension of single minded people around you.
  • Check Your Goal. The goals which are not written down are the ones which tend to trap us, because lack of clarity increases anxiety. The better your understanding of your goal, the more ways you find of achieving it, and the more you will enjoy the journey without the pressure of tunnel vision. Divide your goal into manageable sub-goals that you can work towards in a tangible time frame.
  • Check Your Results. Regardless of how relaxed you might feel, you still want to achieve your goal, and that requires focusing on results. Review and rewrite your goal statement to keep it fresh. Talking about your goal with others can help you monitor your progress and celebrate your success. If you want to achieve accelerated action, then give GOALSCAPE™software a try. It can help you define, track, and reach your goals with less stress.

The Recover Your Rhythm Mandala Chart also contains strategies to help you overcome or avoid the trap of tunnel vision such as, make a wish list to free your imagination, get help from others to lighten your load, take five to get your nose off the grindstone, and forgive and forget to take a more light-hearted approach.

Ask a group of people if they know somebody with tunnel vision, and most of the hands will go up. Ask for a show of hands if you yourself have tunnel vision, and most of the hands will go down. The truth is that we all have it to some degree. Fortunately, we also have the capacity to recognize the trap before we fall into it. Ultimately the cause and the cure are in your mindset.

Soften your focus

The Japanese word for Mind is 心 (kokoro), suggesting an entity that is constantly changing (korokoro kawaru) and one that tends to tighten up (koru). Like clay, the mind needs softening with water to prevent it from hardening into a fixed shape. The mind tends to tighten up when you succumb to tunnel vision. It often afflicts people who work too hard, like a bow which kept strung until it breaks. The best thing for such a person is to recover the rhythm of pressure and release.

It is fine to be firm with yourself in pursuit of an important goal, because without self-discipline it is unlikely to be accomplished. But balance firmness with forgiveness. It is when you loosen up and unstring the bow that you are able to recover your perspective, and free yourself from tunnel vision.

Integrity – Looking oneself in the mirror

by Matthew Carmen on September 13, 2010

This past week I took a vacation, to Hawaii.  I tried to focus on the much-needed relaxation, keeping my mind free of business and the stresses of life; and for the most part, I did.  One work-related thought lingered on, however: integrity in one’s work.   I began to notice integrity – in its various forms –  all over the islands, and kept thinking about how core it is in business, specifically in the consulting and financial worlds where I practice.  Integrity is the one thing that every person should have.  It doesn’t matter what job, economic status, social standing, or any other measure people use to “judge” each other, integrity should be the main benchmark as to one’s character.

The only place I did not see complete integrity was at the USC-University of Hawaii football game.  One of our players (I am a proud USC alum) slammed the opposing quarterback with a truly illegal hit – not exactly playing with integrity, right?  The UH quarterback was knocked out of the game, and when I left the islands on Tuesday, he had still not returned to practice.  The USC player has to look into the mirror and examine his actions, his integrity in question.

The people in the service industry, hotels, restaurants, museums and other places, seemed to do their jobs with integrity.  They were all very helpful, pleasant and seemed truly to enjoy their jobs.  This could be that they were happy to have any job in today’s economy, but I don’t think it was that simple.  It could possibly be tied to the cultural differences in the islands versus the mainland, but again, I don’t think so.  I just think that the people I dealt with actually enjoyed their lives as they were.  What a great place to be in.

Everything I witnessed got me to thinking about integrity in business.  Let me state clearly that I believe the great majority of people – probably more than 98% – hold integrity high on their list, and incorporate into their work accordingly.  What is unfortunate is that the small minority of people that lack integrity are the ones who make all the news.  I go into dealings with people – meetings, XXX, XXX, etc. – with the assumption that those people are honest, forthright and willing to stand to their word.  I hope that people inside and outside of the business world look at me this way in return.  When I make a claim to someone – say a client – I back it up, and if questioned, I’m ready to address it right away.

Integrity and Relationships

Doing business is establishing and growing relationships, and these relationships cannot be strong if not forged with integrity.   For example, my company seeks long-term relationships with all of our clients, essentially becoming a trusted advisor to their organization and solving datacenter, connectivity and IT financial challenges.  Clearly, if our firm is viewed as lacking in integrity, these relationships could not flourish, and the company could not and would not be in business.  At the end of the day, a person has only his or her word, and must operate with integrity to ensure trust.  If they choose to conduct themselves otherwise, there is no need to trust or deal with them.  There are too many people and companies that do things the right way to work with those who do not.

Conclusion

I learned two things on vacation.

  1. It is really important to actually take vacations and clear your mind of professional stress, etc.  Upon your return, you may come up with some new ideas that will revolutionize your business and dealing with clients, co-workers, and management.
  2. I do know that if you don’t have integrity and the internal fortitude to use it, you might as well give it up.  You will never move up in your chosen field or establish close and trusted relationships with people, professionally or personally.  Lastly, look at yourself in the mirror, if you aren’t happy with the person you are looking at, figure out why that is and work on transforming that view into one you like.