Of all the attributes one needs to possess to be successful, the most important trait is focus. The ability to focus differentiates one from the rest of the crowd. We see so many talented people struggling to succeed in their life, mainly because of their lack of focus.

Focus can be defined as the act of concentrating on something or an activity. But this is not a complete definition as you need to ignore so many other things to focus on only one thing. Focus can occur only when concentrating on one thing and ignoring all other elements in the environment at least for the time being.

In today’s society, we have become so accustomed to distraction it is almost impossible to be focused. We are required not only to do multitasking but also microtasking. Computers and robots can excel at multitasking but certainly not us. We need to understand the importance of focus.

Here is a story from the great Indian epic Mahabharata about focus. Pandavas and Kauravas were the disciples of Dronacharya, the greatest teacher of their time. An ideal teacher should be impartial but other students felt that Arjuna was his favorite disciple and criticized the master for his undue favoritism. So, the acharya responded by challenging all students to take part in an archery contest to prove the superiority of his favorite student.

The next day, he set up a target in the shape of a bird on a distant tree and asked his students to attempt to shoot at it. But he also made it mandatory that before their attempt they had to answer his questions.

First, Duryodhana came forward.

“What do you see?” asked Dronacharya.

The Kaurava replied, “I see the bird, the leaves, the tree…”

“Shoot” ordered the Master, the disciple missed the target by miles.

Next was Yudhishtra’s turn, but the answers were the same and he too missed the target. Some others added that they could see the teacher, their cousins, and people standing around and they too were also not able to hit the target. Even the Acharya’s son Ashwathama who could see the bird, the branch on which the bird sat, the mango near the bird, the leaves, and other surroundings tried the shot. He also failed miserably.

Then the great master asked Arjuna to attempt the shot. When Arjuna came forward, set the arrow, and drew the string, his teacher asked, “What do you see?”

Arjuna replied, “The eye of the bird.”

“Can you see the tree?” asked Dronacharya.

The student negated and added “All I see is the eye of the target”

The great master then checked whether Arjuna could see the following items such as trees, bark, leaves, flowers, fruits, his brothers, cousins, even the teacher himself.

To every query, Arjuna kept repeating “No, only the eye”

When Dronacharya asked him to take the shot, Arjuna released the arrow. It sped straight to the target, hit the bulls-eye and the bird came tumbling down. Delighted master told the others, “When you want to achieve something, focus only on your target, eliminate all other distractions.”

That is a very valuable lesson indeed! That is why the greatest martial artist Bruce Lee once said, “The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”

Will Smith, one of the most famous actors in the world today, said in an interview that to be truly world-class at a skill, you need a sickening level of focus.

The popular author of “Emotional Intelligence”, Daniel Goleman in his book “Focus”, terms this as the hidden driver of excellence. He says that we must learn to sharpen focus if we are to contend with, let alone thrive in this era of unstoppable distractions.

At the first meeting of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates that happened at the insistence of Bill’s parents, Bill’s father passed out cards and asked both of them to write down the most important trait that made them successful in their career. They contemplated on it, wrote it down, and surprisingly came up with the same answer:


That is why focus is an important ability. When we focus on our life to make it better, it will start to get better eventually. The focus will help us to discover the path that we don’t even know exists. We are so blinded by our existing problems in life that we forget to focus on possibilities. If you focus on your problems, you will get more problems, but you will get more opportunities if you focus on possibilities, The focus will help us to expand our intelligence and knowledge. Distraction will always knock at our doors but the choice is always ours. If we are not focused, we will end up wasting time and energy. The focus will help us to become more productive at work and will determine the level of achievements we get in life and paving the way for the achievement of our ultimate goal.