In quest of focus

I have written about the concept of ‘focus’ (see ‘Three Secrets Every Entrepreneur Should Know’ in the Ethical Entrepreneurship series) and there is also plenty more to read on the Internet; not to mention our own experiences and practices in this regard. But today’s post is about how to deal with losing focus mid-way to one’s goal.

In the essay Three Secrets…, I wrote about Arjuna’s fish eye story which many of us have heard. This was during his training as a warrior and Arjuna, naturally gifted and able that he was, brilliantly demonstrated the meaning of focus by seeing only the fish eye and nothing else. And Dronacharya told the Pandavas and Kauravas (the two warring clans in the epic Mahabharata) that the most important thing that differentiates a good warrior from bad is focus and that a good warrior never loses sight of the goal. However, the same Arjuna lost focus moments before the key battle of his life and refused to fight, a fight that the universe had created him for. What had changed? And like Arjuna, how many amongst us has lost focus at crucial moments? Of course there can be many answers but in my experience, these can be distilled down to four main reasons:

  1. Attachments: In the key moments before the battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna lost focus. Why? Because instead of seeing his enemies on the other side of the battlefield, he saw gurus, uncles, cousins, nephews, and friends. His attachment to those people made him forget his purpose. Similarly, in our daily lives, other priorities like family might sometimes overtake us at crucial moments and make us forget our purpose. Some key members of one’s family may have grey energy (see my series of essays entitled ‘The Energy Principles‘) and cannot help but pull us away from our goals. Others may hold us back from a spiritual path with the best of intentions such as, “It’s not yet that time in your life”.
  2. Attractive distractions: The story of the Pandavas ascent to heaven is a perfect example of this. The Pandavas had intended to ascend to heaven in their human form, but during the journey, one by one they all fell down and died except for Yudhishthira and a dog that follows them. As each member of the party dies, Bheema asks Yudhishthira why they could not make it to heaven in their human form and Yudhishthira answers by pointing out each of their desires or “attractive distractions” – Draupadi because she loved Arjuna more than the other brothers, Sahdev because of his pride about his wisdom, Nakula because of his arrogance about his good looks, Arjuna because of his jealousy towards other archers, and finally Bheema himself because of his gluttony. While each of the Pandavas lived an exemplary life and worked towards their goals, each of them except for Yudhishthira (and he too pays for his one lie) had some desire which pulled them away from their purpose.
  3. Setbacks: Sometimes there are negative events such as setbacks that disorient us and make us defocus. Alternately one realises mid-way to the goal that it is too lofty and seems unachievable. At such moments one feels overwhelmed and tends to lose focus and direction.
  4. Fatigue: Or it could simply be fatigue. This fatigue could stem from physical exhaustion, but I refer more to mental exhaustion where the mind has evolved and grown, but one’s circumstances have not. The prime example that comes to mind is Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-American business tycoon and perhaps one of the wealthiest men ever. His life is a true rags to riches story. He started his career as a telegrapher and then got into railways and finally steel. He built the Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Steel Company, which he sold to J.P. Morgan in 1901 for $480 million making him the richest man in the world at that time. Until the time he sold his company, Carnegie was known to be an extremely aggressive and bullish businessman. However, for several years he had begun to think differently about wealth accumulation and in 1889 wrote ‘The Gospel of Wealth’ which encouraged philanthropy and redistribution of excess wealth by the very rich. After 1901, Carnegie devoted the remainder of his life to large-scale philanthropy, with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education and scientific research. Perhaps Carnegie’s purpose in life had slowly changed without his realising it and fate provided him an opportunity to change his life at just the right juncture. Grey energy was no longer giving him happiness and he naturally moved towards white (see ‘The Energy Principles‘). The lesson for us here is that one must review why one is fatigued. Perhaps it is stemming from a sub-consciously changed goal.

Concluding my thoughts I would like to say that it is important to analyse the source of our lack of focus, in order to tackle it. Whether one needs to overcome attachments and distractions, deal with setbacks or change course, movement is necessary. In my experience, I have found the Three Jewels of Buddhism to be very useful in this context – Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.

  • Buddha: Buddhism tells us that the Buddha is within all of us, and while I agree, sometimes finding an icon or idol to emulate can help us stay the course and achieve our goals. And I have found that as we go through life, these icons can change based on the stage of life and our own progression, spiritually speaking.
  • Dharma: This is basically putting down your life’s script on paper. Write down your purpose and ask yourself everyday if you are meeting your goal. Put it in a place where you can see it, even multiple places like the pin-board above your desk and even your bathroom mirror!
  • Sangha: The sangha (or spiritual family) is the community of like-minded people who help you achieve your life’s goals that encourages and influences you in the right direction. Find your sangha and refer back to them about your progress.

Write and tell me your experiences… and good luck in your quest!

One Thought on “In quest of focus

  1. Paramdeep on September 3, 2013 at 10:56 am said:

    Dear Varun.. Hi. Very interesting insights. Came across this website and article by chance. Focus is a very critical part of

    Will now look forward to interacting with you on Sunday at Tony’s Mindful Moments session.

    Regards

    Paramdeep

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