Tunnel Vision

The other day I was driving along the motorway wearing my sunglasses. I became aware that I was not fully conscious of vehicles alongside me.

Forward and back were OK but that bit where a vehicle alongside is out of range of the mirrors and not quite in front, I was losing.

My sunglasses have thick side-arms which blocked out that sideways peripheral vision – a problem I don’t have with my normal glasses.

I was driving along in a ‘tunnel’ – aware of where I was going and where I’d been, but not aware of what else was going on.

But this isn’t the only form of ‘tunnel vision’ – and it’s not just about ‘sight’.

Most people have several ‘tunnels’: a work tunnel, a family tunnel, a sports tunnel, and so on.

And when they are in one of their tunnels, they often don’t relate to what’s going on in the others.

If you were on the Northern Line on the London Underground, you wouldn’t know what was happening on the Metropolitan, or the Victoria lines – until you reached an interchange station where you could ‘change tunnels’.

And that’s what happens – most people only travel in one tunnel at a time.

And like the ‘tube’ in London they are ‘dark’ tunnels – you can’t see out.

But what if you travelled in a ‘glass tunnel’?

What if you travelled in a tunnel where you could see what was happening alongside you in your adjacent tunnels?

And what if, like on the motorway, you could switch safely from one lane (or tunnel) to another when you needed to?

The thing is that you and I need, all the time, to be aware of all our tunnels or pathways – and of the impact that what we do in one tunnel will have on our other tunnels.

Spending too much time or resources in one tunnel, one domain of our life, will usually have a negative effect on one or more of the other domains.

You and I have to keep things in balance.

So that we can progress effectively along all our pathways at the same time.

Switching from one lane to another when necessary.

Now that’s great, but . . .

But you and I also need to be aware of all the other ‘traffic’

Other peoples’ tunnels and pathways going in the same or different directions.

Because if we’re not (and to continue the driving analogy) being unaware of what else is going on outside our tunnels, could lead to disaster.

The thing is though, outside the discipline of the roads, most people are generally unaware of, or don’t understand, anything that isn’t part of their personal life domains, their personal tunnels and paths.

Other than of course, the inputs that come to their domains from outside.

Things like messages, e-mails, written communications, advertisements, phone calls, requests, and so on.

All generated from ‘outside’.

People do some really weird things.

They ignore them – a bit like ignoring the traffic lights turning red, or green.

They postpone looking at them – a bit like the emergency services deciding to ‘save up’ all their 999 calls until Mondays and deal with them then.

They filter them out for spurious reasons – “I’m not going to be interested in what he might have to say because he’s not wearing a tie”, or he is wearing a tie!

You and I need to be aware of the world outside our particular domains of interest, which means that we need to ‘open’ the messages that arrive, when they arrive, in whatever form, and then quickly make one of three decisions.

First, respond, if the message is relevant and calls for one a response that can be provided quickly.

Second, ignore, (and forget) but only if the message is clearly not, or no longer, relevant, to us and only if we cannot respond to stop similar messages.

This is the ‘usual’ response to the vast majority of advertising messages we receive.

Third you and I need to process the information.

This could take the form of a considered response relevant to the message, it may be to act on the information, it may be to process the information where the message doesn’t need a specific response, or it may be to simply ‘file’ the information for future reference of later response.

Of course, you and I don’t need to do all this personally.

Some information can be automatically filtered out – provided our filter doesn’t throw away things we might actually want

And we can engage a trusted associate to review the information that comes in, especially direct communications, and perhaps carry out some of the processing.

But it is important that you and I should not isolate ourselves from everything else that’s going on.

You and I need to be aware of what other people are doing so that we can help them or learn from them.

‘Opening’ our ‘messages’ and dealing with them will give us a greater understanding of who and where we are in relation to everyone else.

You and I need to take an objective view of the world as a whole, rather than just a subjective view of the tunnels we live in.

P.S. You and I also need to explore other ‘external’ information and consider opportunities that catch our attention, but that’s another story.