Look First, part II

In part one of Look First we talked about seeing into a space before entering. In this post let’s check out some exercises we can do to increase our ability to see everything we need to see.

For the first exercise we need two post-it notes or a comparable small, yet colorful object to use as a point of focus. For the first exercise we want to work on our eye speed moving horizontally. We need a wall, and three to five yards of space. On the wall place two post-it notes at the same height, (I would suggest head height), approximately one yard apart. Standing 3-5 yards away from the wall focus on the post-it on our left, now move our eyes quickly to the second post-it, and focus on the center of the post-it. Once we are focused, shift our eyes back to the first post-it. That’s one repetition. Repeat for 25 repetitions. Let’s start with 25 repetitions, and work our way up to 50 or more.

Our next exercise is to work on vertical scanning speed. Everything is the same as the first exercise except we are going to place the two post-it notes in a vertical line approximately one yard apart with the first post-it note being about chest high from the ground and the second post-it note being about a yard above the first.  Repeat the steps as above moving only our eyes vertically for 25 repetitions, and gradually working our way up to 50 or more repetitions.

A word of caution with the eye speed exercises, take you time. The first time I worked on these I gave myself a wicked headache by trying to push too fast for too long. Progressive Overload is the key here.

The third exercise I want to share with you all is difficult to explain via text but here goes! Place one post-it note on the wall we used for the drills described above. Head or chest height will work for this exercise. Focus intensely on the post-it. Now we extend our arms straight out to our sides at shoulder height. Turning our hands so our palms face the same wall we are looking at, begin to move your fingers. The objective is to maintain visual focus on the post-it note while still seeing our fingers move in our peripheral vision. If we need to adjust our arms forward to see our fingers move do so however, our goal is to move our arms as far to the rear as possible while still seeing our fingers move, and still maintaining a laser-like focus on the post-it. Attempt to broaden your vision as much as possible.

The fourth exercise is similar to the third except now we are trying to see as high and low as possible vertically. Focus on the post-it note on the wall, now we’re going to raise one arm straight above our head, and keep our other arm straight down. Moving one arm at a time we are going to move our arms forward until we can pick up the movement of our fingers while still maintaining focus on the post-it. Again, attempt to broaden your vision as much as possible.

With the third and fourth exercises do one minute repetitions with a one minute rest. During the rest period close our eyes and relax the eyes as much as possible. Do three to five 1 minute repetitions.

Again, we should be cautious and ease into these exercises. Eye fatigue, the accompanying headache, are no joke. When I first learned to do these exercises I went all in, doing them everyday multiple times a day. In retrospect I don’t think that’s the best approach however, with the way I’m wired moderation isn’t exactly a strong point. For someone just starting I would recommend three times a week to start, and don’t be afraid to back it down to two times a week until you adapt. Ultimately our objective is to be able to do exercises three and four while moving. Sidebar; If there is one thing I would have changed about my training journey it would have been to take my time, aim for consistent incremental progression toward long term goals rather than trying to conquer everything RIGHT NOW!! That’s material for another blog post…

Look First

William Aprill of Aprill Risk Consulting advises us to look into a space before entering. While this might seem to be a simple action how many of us apply this in everything we do? I know I don’t practice this simple preventative technique as often as I should. When approaching our vehicle do we look through the windows into the interior of the car before we open the door and enter? When we are approaching a place of business do we look into the space we are about to enter by looking through the exterior windows to include the windows found in the entry doors? Doing this can gives us a glimpse into the space we are about to enter. It only takes a moment to look first, before entering however, this moment might just save us from an unwanted surprise. Surprise equals deficit, and we want to avoid ever being in a deficit.

Make it a habit to look into doorways you pass as you walk down a hallway or as you mover through a room. In the beginning it might seem a little slow, and take quite a bit of conscious effort however, over time it will become second nature. As you become more aware of your environment, and adapt to processing more information you will find yourself able to more rapidly respond to various stimulus. Practice the “what if” game as you go about your day. Think about what you will do if a situation presents itself. This is part of looking first as you are mentally “looking first” at a possible situation, and working your way through various contingencies.

Physically we have to get into the habit of practicing our wide-angle-vision, attempting to gather as much data as possible mentally and physically to best prepare ourselves for whatever we may encounter. We have to do this in as relaxed a manner as possible since walking around with a wild-eyed look might attract some negative attention… One simple exercise I was taught to develop this skill was to stand in a doorway facing into a room. Take a small step into the room so that you are just barely breaking the plane of the door frame. Without turning your head, keeping your eyes forward, attempt to widen your vision so that you can see the corners of the room to your left and right. It might take a little work, learning to relax your vision and widen your focus from whatever is in front of you but you can do it. With a little effort you will be able to see the entire room without moving your head or eyes. The next step is develop this skill to the point you can do this while walking at your normal pace, or driving your car, moving up and down stairs or across an open space. Really challenge yourself, and let’s find out just how far into a space we can be mentally and visually before we physically enter that space.

More to come on this topic.