Dr. Evelyn Bilias Lolis
Do you want to know what is guaranteed to stunt your growth and productivity?
Shortsightedness involves being so intently attuned and focused on what is in front of you that you lose sight of the larger picture. It is tunnel vision in its highest form. Children are, by default, naturally more prone to shortsightedness. They see and care for what is in their immediate sphere, often at the expense of scaling back to see the wider angle. This is not to say they are incapable of adopting a more aerial view but it is certainly against the developmental grain of childhood and adolescence.
Shortsightedness in adults, however, is extremely limiting. Benchmarks and short-term goals are important and key to meeting larger, more visionary goals and outcomes. They are meant to get us from point A to B in some thoughtful manner. However, focusing too intently on benchmarks can immobilize you—rendering you unpliable in detecting or embracing bigger opportunities that present themselves organically and non-linearly—or as I say, in the “zigzag” of our life’s journey. Many times it is in this very zigzag that we discover opportunities for new relationships, refined projects, heightened innovation, and new hope. This is where shortsightedness sabotages and preys...it casts blinders on anything in its sidelines.
We live in a society that promotes and rewards shortsightedness—the need to set and achieve goals with immediacy—and then throw a parade to mark that accomplishment. This happens day in and day out around us and in my opinion it is the #1 reason why we don’t connect deeply with one another—our myopia drives our need to attain X in a short duration of time and while in this pursuit, we fail to really “see” others aside from how they fit into our little equation. This is the very antithesis of authentic connection.
How well do we know one another? How well do we empathetically listen to one another? How much time do we devote to honoring our dreams by scaling back on the ‘urgency of the immediate’ in order to mindfully remind ourselves of our heart’s true mission and the meaning we so seek?
Isn’t it time to push back on our shortsightedness?
Here are a few morsels worth trying if you desire to take the reigns on shortsighted distractions in your life:
1. Identify “culprits of shortsightedness” in your life—i.e., “who”/“what” forces cause you to become trapped in a line of thinking that is narrow and fixed? Is it a particular social circle or professional network? Is it a particular project of body of work? Notice and take stock. Who do you become when in their/its influence?
2. Take time at least weekly to reflect and remind yourself of what persons, activities, or places give you meaning. Write them down. Make a point to schedule time to engage in or be in the company of such activities or individuals.
3. Pause daily to deepen at least one connection each day. Tune into one individual and try to see them more wholly, more broadly, more fully. Ask questions that will help you to identify what is important to them and what they value. Share something about yourself that broadens their scope of you.
The world is a rich playground that is filled with boundless opportunities for learning, growth, love, and awakening. Shortsightedness blinds us to some of the most beautiful, most potentially meaningful experiences of our life. You are more than just your work. You are more than just your immediate goals. You are more than just any given role. And so is your colleague, your neighbor, your family member, and your friend. Let’s take time to reclaim this in our lives by keeping shortsightedness in its rightful place—temporary and fleeting.