As 2018 approaches, many of us in business are starting to look ahead. I’d like to share with you an article written by the former president of Roaring Women Ltd. (retired) and recipient of Calgary Business Woman of the Year (2010). She is a former police officer, business coach and motivational speaker with whom I had the honor of partnering in many business adventures. With her permission, please enjoy!
As a cadet at police college I learned how to drive differently than I had been trained as a civilian. On the cars we trained in, we had a shallow wok bolted to the very front of the hood on the car. In it was placed a tennis ball. Wherever we drove, at whatever speed we traveled we had to ensure that the tennis ball remained in the wok. It was very difficult to look past the wok to where we needed to go.
Our vision often became focused on the tennis ball, trying to ensure it did not come out of the wok. In addition to that we concentrated on driving very smoothly. However with our focus on the tennis ball- we found it hard to see the bumps or navigate the turns properly. And so we learned that we must look farther down the road – keeping the tennis ball in our peripheral vision.
Our instructors constantly drilled into our heads that we must look where we want to go. In a demonstration I will never forget, we had to speed along a roadway, never letting up on our speed. At an undetermined point a cardboard figure would jump out at us. We had to swerve around the figure and several pylons that marked the roadway. On the first attempt, many of us were unable to keep the car between the pylons. But with practice we learned to look where we wanted to go. Almost magically, we were able to maneuver the car through the pylons and miss the figure. If we concentrated on aiming where we wanted to go- keeping the decoys in our peripheral vision, it became easy.
Later in my career this lesson proved to be invaluable. Many car crash drivers told me all they could see was the pole they did not want to hit – and well you guessed it – that is exactly what they hit. What they failed to do was look for the open spaces. They saw the pole or fence or whatever it is they did not want to hit, and concentrated on that. Their actions caused them subconsciously to guide the car to where they were concentrating on, or looking at. They caused the car to go where they were looking.
Many years later I found myself instructing skiing. In a sport where gravity can be your friend or your enemy, your vision is very important. Again I learned that you must choose your path long before you get there. You must look far enough ahead that you can pick and place each turn. This makes skiing much more enjoyable. In fact it is important to actually ski the course in you mind before you even start your descent.
The principle of looking where we want to go and having telescopic vision is one that we need to use in all of our lives – and especially in business. It is not enough to just think ahead. We must look where we want to go.
We must begin to think strategically, anticipating what is around the next corner or over the next horizon. Although paying attention to detail is important, if we concentrate on the details, we cannot take advantage of the open spaces, or opportunities. We can spend our lives trying to be sure that the tennis ball remains in the wok, but in doing so, may end up traveling on the roughest of roads and making decisions that may just solve an immediate circumstance but not the long term problem.
Life requires that we have telescopic vision. We cannot look at what is right in front of us, but must look long past that point. Our peripheral vision will pick up what is closest to us. Looking as far ahead as the eye can see- and anticipating the possibilities will ensure that we have many opportunities, and that we will go where we really want to go, not where we fear we will end up.
Everyone can develop telescopic vision- but it takes practice. First you must decide that nothing is impossible. And then you must begin to understand that there is a destination that each of us must reach in our lifetime. Start searching the horizon- and look where you want to go.