We all need a powerful mental focus to achieve our dreams, goals, and interests. Focus on where you want to go and not what you are panicked about. Focus is similar to a camera lens in that it shows only the area or angle where we have trained our focus on. Because of this, pictures you take by camera can alter reality and present only a small percentage of the big picture. Focus means the area of interest upon which you have concentrated your thoughts and which can be acted upon. Let’s see what we focus on while achieving our goals and dreams.
The Gita and Modern-Science Perspective
[Chapter 2, Sloka 46 of Gita]
Here, Krishna states that our capabilities are greater than our limitations. You must understand that you are unbounded. Krishna is asking us to focus on our capabilities and not limitations.
Modern science also has a similar take to what Gita said: “An individual who knows his potential (capabilities) can achieve a greater focus." So, the answer to what to focus on? Focus on your capabilities (self-understanding) and act in the direction of your goals and dreams.
How to Create a Focus
Focus begins with goals, dreams, or interests. Naturally, you will have default thoughts about your goals, interests, and dreams. Whatever you focus upon will grow in your mind. The meaning you acquire from a situation is often the matter of focus. In order to get the right meaning, you need to ask the right questions: Stop asking why all the time and shift to “how can I change this situation?" The answer to that "how" leads to a journey and process towards a positive outcome.
For example, in 2001's Eden Garden Test Match, every Indian batsman asked himself: "How can I save this test match for India, or minimize Indian's defeat by scoring runs?" VVS Laxman and Rahul David, however, asked themselves a different question: "How can I turn this around and win the game for India?" Their minds gave the answer, "Stay on wicket for the entire day and score.” They obeyed. The match and series were turned on their heads. This has changed the perceptive of entire world towards Laxman and Dravid. They became “The Tungsten Steel Warriors” of Indian cricket. The focus was changed by asking better questions.
The Role of Intellect and Actions
To construct a powerful focus, you need to get excited; use emotions as well as intellect. You need to get intellectually passionate about the subject. Gross intellect will help you to think, while subtle intellect will help to contemplate about it.
For example, during the Jackson Hole conference in Chicago in 2005, when every economist focused on emotions alone and gave rosy pictures to the audience and stories that earned themselves pats on the back, Dr. Rajan preferred to demonstrate his studies based on both his emotions and intellect. He predicted an American economic crash, in part saying how “the world will fall into a hole.” Dr. Rajan’s presentation was heavily criticized by a number of luminaries. But in 2008, he earned a lifetime reputation as the “world’s most reliable economist.”
Focusing on intellect along with emotions will provide remarkable results. To make an idea useful, you need to act upon it. Unless you have an action-based focus, you will never achieve your goals. If you want to become a singer, learn and start practicing. Having only thoughts of a song in your mind is not going to help you become a singer. Unless you create a proactive focus towards your goal, you will never achieve it.
Get Specific about Entirety
All those who have an ability to perceive and understand specifics in all aspects of life achieve more remarkable results than those who lack this ability. Most people have a habit of thinking generically and superficially about a certain subject from childhood and hence have very vague and broad goals or dreams.
For example, the resolution, “I want to lose 5 kg” is a better goal than “I want to lose some weight,” because it gives a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until the goal is achieved. Also, think about specific actions you need to take to reach your goal. Just promising yourself to “eat less” is much too vague. Be clear and precise by saying, “I will exercise for 40 minutes.” Even the type of exercise needs to be defined. This will make focus crystal clear and achievable.
Sometimes, you recognize specifics and still don’t act. Why? Because it requires the discipline of execution.
"Your ability to think and understand specifics will determine your ability to succeed."
Virendra Dafane is an IIT-B alumnus.