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The Dangers of Tunnel Vision and How to Break Free

I was so focused on the thug in front of me, I didn't see his friend come up and push me from behind...

The year was 2000 and I had just started learning martial arts.

Maybe that’s why I felt emboldened to try to stop a guy on the street from strangling his girlfriend.

True story.

Everything happened so quick.

I was on my way back from IKEA when I saw some teenager on the upper west side of Manhattan with his hands wrapped around a young woman’s throat.

Immediately I jumped out to try and intervene and the next thing I know, the punk is coming after me, using my brand new ÖDMJUK as a weapon against me.

The guy had gotten a hold of my IKEA purchases and was throwing and trying to attack me with them.

Don’t mess with my IKEA stuff!

I backed up keeping my focus on the kid turning his aggression toward me, which is why I didn’t see his friend.

When in a heightened state of alertness, we tend to only focus on one thing at a time, which can have consequential repercussions.

In business, tunnel vision can cost you an important contract, a powerful relationship or fortuitous opportunity.

I always considered this tunnel a psychological stress response but it turns out this phenomena has physiological origins.

Dr. Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist and professor at Standford university talks about how when stressed our pupils dilate creating a more narrow view, kind of like turning your phone from landscape to portrait mode.

This is nature's response to help us deal with incoming threats.

Not a bad mechanism, but the problem is when we are unable to revert to a more panoramic view by returning our nervous system to a more calm state.

Reason being that we increase our blindspot and don't see other potential threats looming as in the case of punk’s friend who caught me by surprise.

In that moment, my situation went from bad to worse.

Which is the case for many decision makers who are blindsided by the business threats they don’t see.

So, how can we gain more control of our internal States so as not fall victim to tunnel vision?

The answer I've found from working with hundreds of professionals is to deploy active breathing protocols.

In English, this means utilizing breathing techniques to regulate our autonomic nervous system giving us more agency on the way we view situations.

Like a Samurai remaining calm in battle, by focusing on how we breathe we can choose to raise our level of alertness. Just by regulating our inhalation to exhalation ratio we can move ourselves from drowsy to ready as well as bring our alertness down from panic to calm.

When we do so, we literally change the way we see the world, which psychologically gives us more options and perspectives to draw from, I.e. turning the phone back from portrait to landscape mode.

One of my mentors would say, “the person with the most power is the one who can hold the greatest variety of perspectives without being tied to any one of them.”

This is the benefit of having a “panoramic view” of the playing field.

Like Jason Bourne when in danger surveying all possibilities and resources available to him.

In my work as a performance coach, I’ve seen business professionals close new deals, discover new lead sources and breakthrough complex problems all from deploying the various breathing protocols I’ve taught.

We like to think a brilliant mind is enough to solve any complex problem but without leveraging the body’s physiology our ability to tap the brain’s resources is severely limited.

Though I wasn’t skilled enough to channel Jason Bourne on the street 20 years ago, I was able to remain calm and hold the teenagers at bay until they left.

I was able to stop the kid from hurting his girlfriend and get out of the situation in one piece. My IKEA furniture on the hand… well, that’s a different story.

What could you do with the power to remain calm in stressful situations?

To learn one of my breathing techniques for remaining calm under pressure, get your free training here.

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