Peripheral Vision: Side vision. The ability to see objects and movement outside of the direct line of vision.
On my daily bike commute I pass a middle school. If I leave at a certain time from home I ride by the school just as the students arrive. The bike path I use moves right along the back entrance to the school – the perfect spot for kids to enter the school using the same path I ride along.
The kids ride bikes, scooters and skateboards. When not using a vehicle appropriate for a 10-year-old, they walk … preferably three or more across, blocking the full path.
Why can they not see me?! I am riding along and clearly just want to pass and get past the school. I ride at a snail pace. Kids have turned right in front of me somehow not noticing my presence. I swear these kids have no peripheral vision.
Hum, that got me thinking… It is important to have a strong sense of peripheral vision, where you can see, understand and react to objects outside of your direct vision. For my musing today I am not focused on the physical ability, but instead I am pondering the need for a strong peripheral vision metaphorically for leaders.
I have worked for and with leaders who are great at deep focus on the job at hand. They get into the detail in front of them, but often miss the important information sitting right there within sight, but not in direct view. In their peripheral vision so-to-speak.
Indeed leaders need to develop a strong sense of peripheral vision for their environment. The need or opportunity so often is not in our direct sight line. Once noticed we can put that deep focus directly where it needs to be.
While a leader needs to build on experience, which helps the deep focus needed at times, a leader needs to also maintain that “beginners mind”. With a beginners mind everything is new and I believe, allows us to notice what is hanging out there … in our peripheral vision. This goes beyond the physical. In this sense our peripheral vision can be emotional and/or conceptual.
When we talk about a leader having “vision”, maybe it is time to really expand what we mean by vision.
I certainly hope the children I pass everyday grow and develop that sense of peripheral vision and everything it applies. It will be important for them in this increasingly complex world.