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Nitish Mukherjee

The author is a Board Member, Advisor, Coach & Mentor. The content of this article is his personal opinion

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Dark Roast Double Shot: Focus – The Mother of All Superpowers (Part 1)

Whether it is the canvas of your life, your professional career, a simple task that you need to perform or any challenge that you need to overcome, choosing the right focal point makes all the difference.

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

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The workweek was winding down at 4pm on a Friday evening. The mood was cheerful as we shuffled in to a makeshift conference room in our office in Mumbai; interminably under ostensible renovation. About twenty chairs set out in a classroom arrangement, facing a green board fenced in with temporary partitions, cloistering a space intended to literally foster close camaraderie. The last agenda for those of us there, before we embraced the unceasing downpour of the city’s extended monsoon, was to attend a session on ‘Creativity’ being conducted by a very eminent Ex-Creative Director of the agency. He had since graduated to the more rarefied environs of design and calligraphy with the distinction of a patented typeface to his credit.

As we walked in a few minutes before the hour, talking animatedly amongst ourselves, we saw a stocky gentleman with his back to the room and arms folded across his chest staring at the board in rapt attention. We stopped our conversations and sat down on the chairs. Some of us even murmured polite greetings hoping to gain his attention but he seemed oblivious to any presence other than that of the board. In a while the stragglers too had come in and cups of tea and coffee that had accompanied us had been emptied and pushed under the chairs. Some had even nudged their neighbours and tittered at the awkwardness of silence that had fallen over the group. In a while the gentleman shambled to another part of the board without breaking his gaze. In what seemed to be an eternity he took off his spectacles, polished them, put them back on and picked up a piece of chalk. He bent towards the board and tapped with the chalk to make a mark. He seemed unhappy with the result and wiped it off and made another dot. Wiped again. Another dot. This time he put the chalk down, put his face inches away from the board and with his fingers kept rubbing off the chalk around the dot till just a sharp tiny speck remained on the board. His taut back relaxed. He turned around, faced us and said “This is the most important part. Figuring out from where it should all start. Irrespective of where it is on your canvas it becomes the epicentre. It will greatly influence the form and flow of your creativity. The more sharply you define this point the greater is the energy that flows from it. This is the ‘Bindu’ (in Indian metaphysics Bindu is considered the point at which creation begins and may become unity) that is the crucible of creation.” He turned back to the board and with a few deft strokes starting from the dot created a beautiful bird in flight that filled the entire board. 

After that he spoke for another hour or so sharing his views and answering our questions. I walked away with the first moments indelibly inscribed in my mind and over the years realised the powerful import of what he gifted us.

The Principle

Whether it is the canvas of your life, your professional career, a simple task that you need to perform or any challenge that you need to overcome, choosing the right focal point makes all the difference. The point of focus subsumes within itself the why, how and what you need to do. It brings together your entire energy to the omphalos suffusing it with the power to leverage incredible momentum.

The origin of focus can come from anywhere. If it is the canvas of your life it can be a function of your political leanings, social commitment, aesthetic preferences, dreams, passions, desires, economic condition, experiences, heritage. Anything that you feel strongly about. If it is a task that you need to undertake it will be a function of who you are and what you do. If you face a challenge it could have been induced by circumstances.

But how do you unleash the power of focus? You begin by envisioning the outcome. The outcome is the reason why you want to be engaged in that activity. The clarity of outcome is often directly proportional to the sharpness of focus. It also raises many relevant questions. Do you have the skills and competencies to get there? Do you need to acquire them by education or strategic alliances? Do you have the resources, the knowledge to get you there? It starts to set forth the journey that you have to undertake to achieve your goal.

Now that you have the picture of your flying bird in your mind and the strokes that will make it come to life you need to find that point where you put the dot. The point that will activate and energise the entire process. For that you need to identify the one thing without which your success is not ensured. It could be knowledge, resources, the right team, the skills or anything else. When you begin, there are always many things crying for your attention, but if you keep your gaze intensely on the outcome and the journey, the real challenges float up. The ability to crack your biggest challenge is what unleashes unfathomed energy. It needs your undivided attention. That is where you need to put the dot. Many years ago, an ex-client of mine had taken up a job with an agency that was losing a client a week and an employee a day. His job was to turn around the business. When I met him, I asked anxiously “What is your plan? What all are you going to do?” His reply was instantaneous “I need to find just one right person to partner with me and be committed to turn the place around. It will happen.” And that is exactly what happened. More than a decade later when I was leaving the agency to to take on a challenging assignment in another city I asked him for his parting advice. The reply was prompt “The one thing that you have to do is find two most important things that will bring the change you want and go for them. If you have a list of three you have one too many.”

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(Nitish Mukherjee is a Board Member, Advisor, Coach & Mentor. The content of this article is his personal opinion.)