Tunnel vision affects all of us. The biggest challenge with this condition is that the primary symptom is a complete lack of awareness that you have tunnel vision in the first place. I see it frequently in my line of work; as a business advisor, I often say I help people see that there is a forest when they are lost in the trees. When I first embarked on my journey, I didn’t feel like I was doing anything special when I helped my clients see the big picture. When I coaxed someone away from the details so they could get an aerial view of the challenge or opportunity they were facing, it didn’t feel like a huge “Aha!” moment to me. But over time, I realized that I was performing an invaluable service for my clients. Here’s the irony: when I stepped back and recognized that being a business advisor was wasn’t supposed to be about having an Aha moment myself, but rather about giving my clients their Aha moments, I said “Aha!” Case in point…being myopic is part of the human condition, so I am just as susceptible as anyone else even if I cure myopia for a living.
My entire thought process on this was sparked this morning, as I was getting ready to leave the house. As I picked up the power cord for my PC I remembered what had happened the night before…
Last night I couldn’t find my power cord anywhere. I looked in all the usual places: the desk, my bag, the bookshelf where my husband sticks it if I left it out and my son tries to play with it. I pored over our office, then expanded my search to the rest of our house, but it had simply disappeared. That’s when the frustration started to creep in. OK, maybe the frustation rushed in, but I had a lot of work to do!
First I was annoyed at myself. How could I have misplaced it? How would I finish my client work if my battery dies? Why can’t I keep track of my stuff? Then the blaming started. Matt must have stuck it somewhere. Why would he put it in an unusual place? He must have taken it to work with him by mistake! I looked all over the house in the places where the power cord had ended up before, but eventually, I gave up. When my husband came home an hour later, the first thing I said was, “Hi Honey. Have you seen my power cord?” and of course my tone was only slightly accusatory. He told me he hadn’t seen it.
About an hour later Matt said, “Hey. Weren’t the cleaners here yesterday? Maybe they moved it somewhere.” Good point. I went back into the office. Like a lot things you look at frequently, eventually you stop seeing them. But what Matt said had flipped a switch in my mind; this time when I looked in the office, it took me – literally – two seconds to see the power cord, which had been shoved into one of those wall pocket thingies where I put all of the important mail I don’t intend to open. At the time, I was so relieved to have found the power cord that I just grabbed it, plugged my PC into the wall, and told my husband he was a genius. Living with me is like an emotional roller coaster.
It wasn’t until I had a night to sleep on it that I realized how interesting that little experience had been. When I saw my power cord this morning, it hit me that I had been gifted a concrete, tangible experience to remind me of how easy it is to become myopic, get tunnel vision, get lost in the trees, or slip into a state of denial. And, maybe more importantly, I had the opportunity to experience how good it feels when someone helps you take a step back in a kind and gentle manner. This situation would have ended very differently if, in the throes of my frustration, my husband took my frustration personally and got angry at me for implying he put my power cord somewhere or got annoyed with me for losing something that is expensive to replace. Instead, he just pondered the problem, came up with an idea, and helped me shift my perspective. (AUTHOR’S NOTE: Thanks, Baby!)
I suppose the challenge for all of us is to teach ourselves how to take a breath and get distance from something when we feel “stuck.” In addition, it’s important to be receptive to help if we can’t manage to get ourselves unstuck. But to me, the most valuable awareness I received from this experience was to remember to be compassionate when I encounter anyone who is challenged by myopia. I know from my own experience that people who are afflicted with tunnel vision have no idea that they are lost in the trees, so I must be kind and gentle if I help them take a step back so they can see the forest.
All of this from a lost power cord.