Keep your eyes open all the time. You never know what opportunities lie at the edge of your vision. Keep your mind free to all possibilities. Focus may be productive, but it has a very negative side effect: myopia. The real pros do not ruthlessly blockade distractions from their lives; they listen to all options, see everything, and train themselves to sort through variables faster than everyone else. If you want to rule the world, learn to dissect the world efficiently. Pay attention to everything and consider it all before filtering away. The email at the bottom of the list, the girl in the corner of the room, or that side panel advertisement may actually be the most important twists in your life. But you’ll never know unless your mind’s eye stays open.
When you look for the bigger picture, the opportunities open to expansive horizons.
When you keep both peripheral and local vision in perspective you can see both the possibilities and the probabilities.
When you just keep your eye on the ball, you lose sight of the threats.
Knowing what to do, when to do it, and why it must be done – then you have accomplished more that you can ever see.
Leadership is about knowing what the right thing to do is, when it is right to do it, and why it must be done. We lack that in this world today, but our youth have the potential to change that fact.
Paying attention to “everything” may lose you one of the chief advantages of human peripheral vision. Human vision trades off peripheral vision (low resolution, monochrome, very wide field of view – about 99% of our field of view is covered by peripheral vision, and excellent motion detection) with foveal vision (central, focused, colour, very high acuity). By “focusing” on the periphery, you lose the ability to detect small changes and movements. So, perhaps counter-intuitively, the way to get the best from the periphery is to marginalize it, keep it (deliberately) unfocused, while being aware of it. We do this in our driving, and I try to do this in my work in competitive intelligence.
Dr Michael Neugarten
Dr. Neugarten, I can’t thank you enough for your insight here. I follow your logic – and it is absolutely genuine. Conceptually, your periphery should serve foveal vision. Therefore, one should focus diligently on the mission at hand and stay in tune with the wide field of view encompassing it.
Far too little in society do we apply operations of the human anatomy to functional concepts in our daily lives. Many facets of our knowledge about the human brain, for example, run against the way we educate, work, and operate in modern industrial society. More scientists need to draw these parallels and promote them into our day-to-day lives.
Just a brief comment for now – our peripheral vision alerts us as to what will shortly enter our foveal vision, and even directs us as to where to look next. Consequently, it functions as an early-warning system – try and think just how often we use this when driving or walking. But my contention is that it can be used in business too. Bearing in mind that Andy Grove, founder of Intel, once remarked that in the spring, the snow (first) melts at the edge – I think that what he meant by that was that the interesting interface is at the periphery – not necessarily in the lane in which we are driving, but in adjacent lanes, technologies and areas of activity. The main opportunities (and threats) may well come from the margins of our activities. Hence it behoves us to be cognisant of that (unfocused) region.