Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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Shifting Time Horizons

October 11th, 2004 · No Comments

[via Anish Sankhalia] The Innovation Road Map Travelogue writes:

The roads leading from Austin west can go many miles through desert or semi-desert. Driving requires a focus on the horizon with peripheral vision alert to movement along the sides of the road. I hurtled along at high speeds in over 2000 pounds of metal, glass, and plastic, essentially out of control. Calmly I talked and sped along.

If a curve appeared on the horizon, I decided long before reaching it whether to slow down or if it was safe to continue at my current speed. I had learned years ago that you never try to brake after entering a curve. As race car drivers know, it is more stable to be accelerating through a curve. So it is essential to slow down before entering a curve.

I noted something as I drove. As long as I kept my vision on the horizon, driving at a high speed was easy, even if the road had many curves. As I brought my focus closer and closer to the car, driving became very difficult. If I tried to focus on the space just in front of the car, I couldn’t drive at all. In that condition, I would have to slow the car down to only a few miles per hour.
I noticed that, if I tried to drive by focusing on the road just in front of the car, even if only for a few seconds, I became very anxious. Stress built up quickly.

This is an analogy for what we are experiencing in our lives and work. Things have sped up. Our response has been to shorten our horizon. We look only to the immediate future, what’s on the road right in front of us. Then, we have tried to structure the feedback and action loops. Trapped in our perceptions by the technology, we try to use the technology in a brute force way to enable us to survive.

All we really have to do is look up. Look at the horizon for our lives, our work. Have a vision of where we are going, and living becomes easier again.

Tags: Management

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