TRANSCRIPT of VIDEO: Vigilant Mindset Moment: Why Being Laser-focused is a Bad Thing in Business and in Life
Hey, I’m Len Herstein and I’m the author of Be Vigilant! Strategies to Stop Complacency, Improve Performance, and Safeguard Success, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and wherever you buy books right now and this is a Vigilant Mindset Moment.
We’re going to be talking about whether or not being laser-focused is always a good thing.
So, I got this email today and it’s talking about staying laser-focused on success. It doesn’t matter who it’s from. I’m not going to mention that, but it got me to thinking because this is something I talk about in the book. Most of the time, when people talk about being laser-focused, they’re talking about it as a positive, right? It is almost superhero, and we are able to really, really focus in on what our target is and what we’re trying to accomplish, and we accomplish great things.
But here’s the thing: In my mind, there’s not much difference between being laser-focused and having tunnel vision. Tunnel vision we talk about as a bad thing. Laser focus we talk about as a good thing. But they’re both the same thing. We lose sight of what’s around us.
So, play a little game with me and I’ll illustrate this for you. Just give me a minute here.
Okay, so everybody knows this carnival game, right? The objective is to take your water cannon and shoot it at the mouth of this terrifying clown and fill up the balloon on its head and be the first one to pop the balloons and you win.
Now, I don’t know about you, but this clown freaks me the heck out, but I’m going to get past it for now, and I want you to take that water cannon, a water gun or whatever you have, put it in your dominant hand or whatever hand and I want you to really go out there and I want you to watch that clown’s mouth and I want you to really focus and I want you to kind of hone in on that clown’s mouth and make sure that you’re pointing exactly at it and we’re going to go ahead and we’re going to fill up this balloon
3-2-1, start shooting, shooting, shooting, shooting, you get it, you get it, you get it and pop! you win.
Congratulations, you get a stuffed animal worth $2. But here’s the thing – if you’re like most people, what you did when you were focusing in on that clown’s mouth is you closed your non dominant eye. Mine is my right eye. So, when I close that, I can’t see anything over here.
And, so, the cost of laser focus is losing focus on things that are going around on around you.
So, let’s see a real-world example. Here, back in 2017, Pepsi put out this ad with Kendall Jenner and basically it was building off of what had been happening at the time and it’s still happening now in terms of, there’s a lot of social unrest and protests and things going on in the world.
And, so, Pepsi came out with this kind of lighthearted commercial where Kendall is shooting some sort of photo shoot and she sees this protest and she gets pulled into the protest and then she bridges the gap between the protesters and the police by giving them a Pepsi and solves the world’s problems.
Now, on paper, this probably seemed like a great idea. You look at who the followers and the fans of Kendall Jenner are, and you match that up with who the target of Pepsi is and it’s probably really close and Kendall Jenner has a lot of people, she’s a huge influencer, right? And, so, it seemed like a great idea probably tested pretty well with that target.
The problem is that many, many more people than that target saw this ad and a lot of them were angered and frustrated and offended by the fact that they felt that this ad was trivializing their cause. They felt this ad was trivializing and minimizing what their concerns were and was making fun of it.
And, so, this was a huge backlash. And not only were those people offended, but that offensive feeling trickled back to the target, and everybody had a problem with this ad. And, so, this was something that became a huge problem for Pepsi. They quickly had to backtrack and, as they should have, apologized, and pulled the ad and it was a big problem. But this all was because they became laser focused and lost their vision of what else was going around in the world and around them and beyond their target.
When I was in the police academy, they were teaching me how to shoot the way they wanted me to shoot, and they taught me how to shoot with both eyes open. And it’s super important because if I can shoot with both eyes open, I can see the target, I can see beyond the target. I have that depth perception and I can also see around myself and the target as well. So, I maintain that situational awareness, right? I don’t miss things.
A lot of times when something like what we saw in the Pepsi ad happens, we talk about that in terms of unintended consequences. I don’t believe that there are unintended consequences. There are consequences that were not considered. There are consequences that were not seen, right?
And that’s where we get into that problem. That laser focus or tunnel vision comes in.
So, here’s the thing, here’s the takeaway and here’s your Vigilant Mindset Moment:
Keep both eyes open. Keep both eyes open in business and in life and at home. Don’t lose sight of the periphery and beyond your target and, in turn, you will remain vigilant.
Until next time, I’m Len Herstein. Be vigilant!