Use your peripheral vision

Published by tim-isherwood on

When winter comes and the days get shorter it is inevitable that evening walks with my dog, Sam, are done in the dark but we don’t use a torch once we leave the tarmac and street lights behind. I find that my night vision is actually quite good, especially if I use my peripheral vision.

My Dad ( ex Royal Marines) taught me about peripheral vision when we went onto Kinder Scout on a cold Christmas night when I was about eleven. Kinder is always a difficult place to navigate but this becomes a whole new game in the dark. Peripheral Vision is when you use the edge of your vision and those dark objects, such as Sam, my Black Labrador, stand out in the darkness. Quite surprising when you first try it out.

I was reminded of all this yesterday, when Sam and I set off for our evening walk. Once in open country the night was surprisingly light and then we saw a light coming towards us, the dreaded torch carrying person. Torches will destroy your night vision, especially when the carrier shines them directly into your eyes, which is what torch carriers always seem to do.

Sam, as always, was up front checking the way and, as he was slightly to one side of the path, the torch carrier walked on past him without seeing him.

I also moved to one side of the path, not wanting to be blinded by the torch, and again the torch carrier walked on by, head down and totally unaware I was close.

I always find it incredible that people walk out at night carrying a lighted torch, because they loose the opportunity to see what is around them, being only able to see 5 metres around them, at most. They seem frightened of the dark, not realising that they make the darkness more intense by using their torch.

The strange thing is that this is how many people live their lives and behave in businesses, head down focussed totally on the path in front not really caring what is to either side or even further in front.

Seeing this person carry on past made me think that it would help in running our businesses if we used our night and peripheral vision skills. If we don’t use these skills, that of being aware of what is to the side and in front, we create what is termed “silo mentality” or “tunnel vision”.

Let me give you two recent examples – you might recognise the context:

  • the people, in a firm I was working with, who only knew those in their immediate department.
  • the FD who was so focussed on expense claims that he missed the client exceeding their credit insurance terms, he lost his firm four times the annual expense claim when the client went bust.

If we walk through life guided only by the torch lighting the path in front, we will not only miss opportunities, we will incur additional costs. We will loose the opportunity to become better tomorrow than we are today because we don’t we don’t compare performance – the ability to improve dies.

Sometimes it is best to switch off the torch, lift up your head and use your peripheral vision. Those dark objects that spring into view could be the next opportunity for you and your business, you will not only foster a more inclusive and creative environment around you will also gain greater value because you are seeing more of the world.


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