Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita #24 – Focus

Chapter 2 Verse 41

व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धिरेकेह कुरुनन्दन |
बहुशाखा ह्यनन्ताश्च बुद्धयोऽव्यवसायिनाम् || 41||

vyavasāyātmikā buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana
bahu-śhākhā hyanantāśh cha buddhayo ’vyavasāyinām

vyavasāya-ātmikāresolute; buddhiḥintellect; ekāsingle; ihaon this path; kuru-nandanadescendent of the Kurus; bahu-śhākhāḥmany-branched; hiindeed; anantāḥendless; chaalso; buddhayaḥintellect; avyavasāyināmof the irresolute
Translation – O descendent of the Kurus, the intellect of those who are on this path is resolute, and their aim is one-pointed. But the intellect of those who are irresolute is many-branched.
My interpretation –
Success in any field cannot be achieved without singular focus ! Look at all the great business tycoons or politicians or musicians or leaders or even students who score well – they reach the heights of their chosen field only by focussing on the tools of their trade almost to the exclusion of all else.Napoleon Bonaparte once had his troops burn their own ships as they entered a new battle. He was said to have told his men that the only way to return home, was to win the battle and take the enemy’s ships. There was no possibility of retreat. While many of us go forward in life with plan A, plan B, plan C and plan W. Plan A is what we really want, but most of us are reluctant to put in 100% focus and energy into it because we have been told that “things may not work out”, “always have a plan B” etc etc. So we have the next best option in mind as plan B. Then you have the overcautious ones with a plan C. Majority of humanity however works with plan W – “whatever” ! Just accept whatever happens or sulk that you didn’t get what you want without putting in any effort to get what you want.

Lord Krishna says in this verse – the resolute are one-pointed or focussed while the irresolute are many-branched. Those who are resolute refuse to let their focus digress. A Steve Jobs could not have created the stunning products he did without being resolute and having tremendous focus. Look at how he never spent time on shopping for the best clothes or chasing singing classes or studying horticulture.

How focussed are we in whatever we do ? I know of many people who read books on office time, do household chores while at work, check their portfolio and make investments on office time and then stay in the office till the wee hours “working hard”. Or home makers who are so disorganised that they put the saucepan on the stove only to realise they ran out of oil two days back ! Success in any field demands focus, that’s all.

Question of the day is – How sharply are you focussed on succeeding in your chosen field ?

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