If You Can’t See, Reach Low and Slow

Let me say up-front that I realize that you may not be able to see, but despite that, you never bump things, knock things over nor spill stuff. Well, good for you. Your skill set is definitely advanced relative to mine. I mentioned earlier that many people who can’t see have skills far better than mine and skills I just don’t have.

I sometimes bump things, knock things over and occasionally spill stuff. Here is the first and most important point. So does everyone else, whether they can see or not. And whether you can see or not, the reason is most always the same … carelessness.

That’s unfair? You can’t see, so everyone should cut you a little slack?

You’re right, and most people will cut you some slack, although it’s still annoying and inconvenient for them, especially if they have to clean up your mess. Better to ramp up your skill set some and get better at not bumping, knocking and spilling.

Here’s a technique that will help. It won’t prevent all of those little accidents, but will reduce their frequency. Before reaching for anything, even if you just put it there yourself, hesitate just a second to consider where you think it is. Now reach low and slow. Slide your hand on the table or along the path toward whatever you are reaching for. This serves two purposes. First, when you touch the glass or other object, you won’t be moving your hand fast enough to knock it over or to spill whatever is in the container. At least, let’s hope your hand was moving slow enough.

That’s the slow part. The low part is so, when you do touch the glass or other object, you touch it near its bottom. It’s that center of gravity thing. Things are just less likely to tumble over or spill from a little bump near their bottom.

There is an extra benefit to low and slow. If when you touch whatever you are looking for, it scoots or rolls away, it probably won’t go as far. That usually makes it easier to find, if you need to feel around for it. Even then, keep it low and slow while trying to find it.

But, if you can’t see, slow matters most, right after taking a second to think about what you are reaching for, where you are headed or what you want to do. If you can see, you just look and do. If you can’t see, you need to first make a calculation and then act on your calculation, thoughtfully and intentionally.

Three important elements in your calculation are distance, position and risk. There are other elements, but these are the three most used. How far away is it? Where is it in relation to things I already know about? What is the risk to me or to other things if I get the calculation wrong?

I could go into more detail, but I suspect that you get the point. Stop a second to calculate distance, position and risk, and then reach low and slow.

If it is to be, I’ll think first and then reach low and slow to get what I want for me.

Don’t Confuse Can’t See with Can’t Do

I was listening to a podcast yesterday when a listener’s email told a sad story. The listener identified himself as blind and was bemoaning his situation. Mostly, he was complaining about all the things he can’t do and how inconvenient it is to need someone around to care for him and his needs.

That got me to thinking about how easy it is for those of us who can’t see to confuse can’t with don’t know how. The specific issue in the listener’s email that caused me to ponder the confusion came when he said that he had to get someone who can see to hang a picture for him. His point was that his blindness prevents him from using a drill and makes it impossible for him to get the picture level and at the right height.

That’s just silly talk. I can’t see and know how to use a drill. I can’t see and know how to make sure a picture is level. I can’t see and know how to hang a picture at a good height for most people when they are looking at it. Being blind is not the reason why the listener can’t hang a picture on his wall. The reason is simple. He just doesn’t know how to hang the picture without being able to see.

Is the listener having his own pity party? Probably, but that is not my point. It’s true that he can’t do by looking. (We explored that notion in the last episode of Blind How.) But just because he can’t do by looking doesn’t mean he can’t do.

Let me suggest a strategy for doing if you can’t see. Think of something – anything – that you think you can’t do because you can’t see. Now, start with the outcome. As clearly as you can, define what you want to achieve. I want this picture hanging appropriately on that wall. I want to be wearing my red shirt with my black pants. I want to be eating lasagna for dinner. I want to be pleased with the selection of groceries in my pantry. I want to be sitting on my friend’s patio chatting and having a cold drink. I want to be at a bookstore, signing copies of my new book. I want to be relaxing in my newly finished basement or perhaps on my new deck. I want to be listening to the latest episode of my podcast. I want to be attending my graduation from college. I want to use all of the features on my cell phone. I want to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

I know. It’s another one of those lists. But what goes on your list? What outcomes interest you?

Now that you have an outcome in mind, you’re ready for the second part of this strategy for doing without seeing. There are people who can’t see who know how to do all of the things on the list I have included here. Even better, there are people who can’t see who know how to do most everything on your list as well. But how do they do that?

They use the three strategies I mentioned in an earlier episode of Blind How. They get someone who can see to do it for them. They get someone who can see to help them do it. They learn to do it for themselves. Whichever strategy they choose, they don’t confuse can’t see with can’t do.

Here’s the secret sauce. The people who are most successful at doing without seeing intentionally use all three of these strategies, taking care not to confuse can’t see with can’t do. It works like this.

I’ll first be clear about what I want. Then I’ll identify someone to will do it for me, while I carefully observe. Then, I’ll get them to help me do it myself. Finally, I’ll use my new skills to do it by myself.

If it is to be, I’ll just learn how to do it for me.

Don’t Confuse Can’t See with Can’t Do

I was listening to a podcast yesterday when a listener’s email told a sad story. The listener identified himself as blind and was bemoaning his situation. Mostly, he was complaining about all the things he can’t do and how inconvenient it is to need someone around to care for him and his needs.

That got me to thinking about how easy it is for those of us who can’t see to confuse can’t with don’t know how. The specific issue in the listener’s email that caused me to ponder the confusion came when he said that he had to get someone who can see to hang a picture for him. His point was that his blindness prevents him from using a drill and makes it impossible for him to get the picture level and at the right height.

That’s just silly talk. I can’t see and know how to use a drill. I can’t see and know how to make sure a picture is level. I can’t see and know how to hang a picture at a good height for most people when they are looking at it. Being blind is not the reason why the listener can’t hang a picture on his wall. The reason is simple. He just doesn’t know how to hang the picture without being able to see.

Is the listener having his own pity party? Probably, but that is not my point. It’s true that he can’t do by looking. (We explored that notion in the last episode of Blind How.) But just because he can’t do by looking doesn’t mean he can’t do.

Let me suggest a strategy for doing if you can’t see. Think of something – anything – that you think you can’t do because you can’t see. Now, start with the outcome. As clearly as you can, define what you want to achieve. I want this picture hanging appropriately on that wall. I want to be wearing my red shirt with my black pants. I want to be eating lasagna for dinner. I want to be pleased with the selection of groceries in my pantry. I want to be sitting on my friend’s patio chatting and having a cold drink. I want to be at a bookstore, signing copies of my new book. I want to be relaxing in my newly finished basement or perhaps on my new deck. I want to be listening to the latest episode of my podcast. I want to be attending my graduation from college. I want to use all of the features on my cell phone. I want to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

I know. It’s another one of those lists. But what goes on your list? What outcomes interest you?

Now that you have an outcome in mind, you’re ready for the second part of this strategy for doing without seeing. There are people who can’t see who know how to do all of the things on the list I have included here. Even better, there are people who can’t see who know how to do most everything on your list as well. But how do they do that?

They use the three strategies I mentioned in an earlier episode of Blind How. They get someone who can see to do it for them. They get someone who can see to help them do it. They learn to do it for themselves. Whichever strategy they choose, they don’t confuse can’t see with can’t do.

Here’s the secret sauce. The people who are most successful at doing without seeing intentionally use all three of these strategies, taking care not to confuse can’t see with can’t do. It works like this.

I’ll first be clear about what I want. Then I’ll identify someone to will do it for me, while I carefully observe. Then, I’ll get them to help me do it myself. Finally, I’ll use my new skills to do it by myself.

If it is to be, I’ll just learn how to do it for me.

If We Got Trouble

How often do you think, “I got trouble?” It happens for all of us, for some of us more often than for others of us. Even so, the hard truth is that there is seldom much we can do about the trouble we have right now. That fact not withstanding, our typical response to our trouble is to focus on the trouble we have right now.

But what if we are focusing on the wrong thing? Please listen and see if there may not be a better focus for your attention and energy.

If You Can’t See, How and Do Are a Tough Mix

When I think of things I want to do, it’s easy to get stuck at “how.” For example, the mail comes, and I want to read the mail. How do I do that?

I pop the last chip in the bag into my mouth and want more chips. How do I get more chips?

I want to call my friend but don’t remember his number. How can I find his number?

I want to wear my red shirt with my black pants. How do I know I selected the right ones?

I want to go for a walk in the park. How do I do that without getting hurt or lost?

I want to do some work on my computer. How is that possible?

I could keep adding to my list as you could to yours. But here’s the point. If I could see, the “How?” questions have easy answers.

I just open the mail and read it, run over to the corner store and pick up some more chips, scroll through my contacts on my phone and tap on my friend’s number, look in my closet and grab my black pants and red shirt, slip on my walking shoes and head out to the park, pick up my mouse and I’m good to go.

If I could see, the “How?” for most everything on my list is simple. But I can’t and the “How?” is not simple.

If you used to be able to see, the first step to get past the “How?” issue will likely be the hardest for you to take. Look and do is not an option anymore. You can’t look and read, look and shop, look and tap, look and choose, look and walk, look and click. You can’t look and do anything anymore.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can still do most things you want to do, just not by looking and doing. The challenge is to get unstuck, to get on past the notion that looking is the only way to facilitate doing. I can’t see, thus I can’t do, is seldom true.

The problem is getting stuck on “How?” But that’s not quite it. Close, but not quite. The problem is getting stuck on looking being the only how. It’s not. That’s some more good news.

Unfortunately, there is also some more bad news. Alternatives for doing, when looking isn’t an option, are usually neither obvious nor intuitive. I have had most of a lifetime to learn how to do without seeing, but there are still skills I haven’t mastered, strategies I still haven’t learned.

Let me close on this episode of Blind How by sharing a simple fact. Not seeing is a nuisance, inconvenient, frustrating, but is what it is. Doing without looking requires a skill set and resources that are neither easy to acquire nor simple to maintain. If you want a quick and easy solution, sit back, relax and hope that someone takes pity and waits on you. Otherwise, here’s the deal:

If it is to be, it’s up to me, despite my not being able to see.

(Remember to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode of Blind How.)